For Parents & Families

 Family enjoying fall family weekend. 

Parents and families are such an important part of the Gonzaga journey for our Zags.  You offer support, encouragement, and guidance throughout their time at GU.  We know that this often includes supporting and guiding your student in regard to their well-being.  We have compiled a number a resources that may be helpful as you guide your Zag from the side in all things health and wellness.

What campus resources are available to support my student's well-being?

There are so many resources available on campus to support you and your student at each phase in their journey.

Parent & Family Relations

This office is dedicated just to you!  The intent of Parent & Family Relations is to make the Gonzaga campus a “home away from home” by offering you a full range of services and resources.  From general questions to specific concerns about your student, this office is your go-to resource and a great starting point when you're not sure what to do.  Their expertise is assisting you during your student's time at Gonzaga.

Parent & Family Newsletter

This online newsletter, from the Parent & Family Relations office has articles on a number of health and well-being topics.  You can view current topics or search by area of interest. 

Other Campus Resources

For a list of commonly used resources, including contact information and a little information about what each office does, please visit our Campus Resources page.

Referring Your Student

We understand that it can be difficult to know where to refer your student when they have questions or need assistance.  In order to help with this, we have put together a tool for you.  Our Campus Resources Matrix can help you identify offices where you can send or refer your student when they need support. 

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My student is struggling. Who can I call?

If you have emergent concerns about your student:

For medical emergencies, please call 911 or refer your son or daughter to a local Emergency Department. 

For mental health emergencies, call 911, refer them to a local Emergency Department, or have them call the 24/7 Regional Behavioral Health Crisis Line 1-877-266-1818 (toll free number) 

If you have an immediate concern for your student's safety or the safety of the Gonzaga community, you can call Campus Security at 509-313-2222 and they will assist you in addressing the situation.

If you have concerns about your student, but this is not an emergency:

Sometimes small changes in behaviors or attitude are the first indicator that a student may need more assistance.  As parents, you often notice these changes before anyone else.  A student of concern is any student who is displaying behaviors that may get in the way of a student's ability to be successful in the University environment.

The Student of Concern form is one way you can share that you are concerned about your student. Someone from the Center for Cura Personalis, or their designee, will reach out to provide your student with support and resources.  If you would prefer to discuss your concern with someone directly, you can call the Center for Cura Personalis at 509-313-2227.

You can also report Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault or report concerns about student's Academic Performance, if your concerns are more in line with one of those topics.

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Do you have any general tips for working with my student when they're having a hard time?

Whether you're looking for a few tips to support your own Zag or want to provide them with some guidance as they help a fellow Zag, we have a few suggestions for you:

Listen

  • Take a break from what you are doing to focus solely on your student and simply listen to what is being shared.
  • Find a place to talk in private so your student is able to feel more open to talking

Acknowledge

  • Express interest, care, and concern. Make sure your student knows you are interested in what (s)he is sharing.
  • Be cautious in assuring full confidentiality.  If your student shares that they are thinking about harming themselves or others, you need to get others involved. Talk with your students about your limitations, and be open to helping them get connected to others who are specially trained.
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
  • If your Zag is trying to help a fellow Zag, perhaps a friend or a roommate, help them set and maintain healthy boundaries.  For our Zags, this is often the most challenging part of helping a friend.  We don't expect our students to assume the role of a counselor or to be available 24/7.  Establishing boundaries is a healthy way to define when and how your Zag is available to help them.

Assess

  • Ask open ended questions to help clarify.
  • Help explore what options your Zag may be open to for getting assistance (e.g. meeting with a case manager in the Center for Cura Personalis, scheduling an appointment with a counselor).

Refer

  • Don't ignore comments about suicide, violence, or harm to self or others from your student and encourage your Zag to take these comments seriously as well. Call Campus Security and Public Safety immediately (509-313-2222) to report these concerns.
  • Help students get connected to the appropriate resources. There are a number of offices on campus that can support your student.  These resources have been detailed in the above sections on this page.

Practice Self-Care

  • Supporting your student when they are going through a difficult time can have a big impact on you as a parent or family member.  These conversations can be very difficult or emotionally challenging.  You may need to take time for yourself.  Whether it's quiet time to reflect, going to the gym, or spending time with family, be sure to take care of yourself.
  • If your Zag is trying to help another Zag, coach them on the importance of self-care.  It's hard to help others if they aren't taking care of themselves.
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I need to have a difficult conversation with my Zag. How can I approach this conversation?

It's never easy to have a difficult conversation--particularly with someone you care about.  If you need to have a difficult conversation with your student (or if you're coaching your Zag on a difficult conversation they may need to have with a friend), here are some phrases that might help with the conversation in general or with specific aspects.

General Suggestions

  • “I am concerned about you; I'd like to help."
  • "I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care.”
  • “Tell me what I can do for you” or “How can I help you?”
  • “How are you feeling today?”
  • "How are things going for you?"
  • "I've noticed ____________________________ (behavior you have observed) and I am concerned about you."
  • If you are in a public setting, "I've been concerned about you lately.  May we speak privately?"
  • Repeat back what your student has shared with you.  "I understand that you haven't been getting enough sleep and it's making it difficult for you to get to class on time."

Empathize

  • “With so much going on, I can understand why you are feeling overwhelmed."
  • Help normalize the concern.  "I know you may feel alone or like you are the only student who is struggling this way, but it's normal to feel overwhelmed during finals week."
  • Share your own experience with a similar concern, if you feel comfortable. 

Clarify Your Student's Concerns

  • If they are communicating concerns in a non-linear fashion and it's difficult to put together what has happened, "I want to help you, but I'm not sure I understand your concern.  What was the first thing that happened?"  or "I understand _________ happened.  What happened then?"
  • “I'm sorry, but I don't understand.  Could you repeat that or say it in a different way?”

Set Boundaries

  • The tips in this section may be most helpful if you are guiding your Zag in a conversation they need to have with a friend. 
  • “I want to be able to help you, I will need you to ______________________ (insert inappropriate behavior, such as yelling, cursing, standing too close)." or "If you want to continue this conversation, I will need you to..."
  • In situations where students have recurrent concerns:  "I have 15 minutes today, so within that time, what can I help you with?

Ask Direct Questions

  • "Have you had thoughts of harming or hurting yourself?”
  • "Are you having thoughts of suicide?"
  • Directly asking the question will not give your Zag ideas. 

Engage Your Student in Solutions

  • "What do you think would be most helpful for you right now?"
  • "What do you need to get back on track?"
  • "You asked me for help and I have offered a few suggestions, but they don't seem ok with you.  What ideas do you have to address your concerns?" or "Are there solutions you can think of that you would be more comfortable with?"

Refer Your Student to An On-Campus Resource

  • “I want to help you, but I am not a professional counselor.  I think it might be very helpful for you to talk with them.  (S)he can help you work through some of these challenges and give you some skills to help."
  • Manage up.  "I've met the people in that office and they are really good at helping students with these situations."
  • "I think _____________ (campus or off campus resource) could really help you/would be a great resource for you.  Would you like to call them together?" Or, offer to walk to the office together.
  • If you are comfortable, share an experience of how talking with a professional or another resource on campus helped you.
  • Again, the tips in this section might be most relevant for your student if they are trying to help another student.  We wanted you, as parents and families, to have these resources so you could have more tools to help you guide your Zag.

Acknowledge

  • "Thank you for sharing this with me.  I know it took courage to share your concerns."
  • "I know it can be hard to ask for help, but I'm proud of you for reaching out to me."
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What is the difference between the Center for Cura Personalis and Health & Counseling Services?

Two of the primary resources on campus that support the health and well-being of Gonzaga University students are the Center for Cura Personalis and Health & Counseling Services.  In order to help you understand a little more about each of these offices and the services they offer to support students, please watch the brief introduction videos below.

Please also know that the most important part of connecting a student with either of these offices is making that connection!  If you or a student reaches out to either office, our teams will help you navigate to the right place.

 

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How can I talk with my student about drugs and alcohol use on college campuses?

Alcohol and drug use can have a significant negative impact on a college student's life and on the campus community.  Research has shown that parents and families can play an important role in influencing this behavior.  We have put together a resource guide to help you, as a parent or family member, in understanding alcohol and drugs on college campuses and having this conversation with your student.  

To view our ZagTalk guide, please visit this page.

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