Information for Family Members

Distress - Family

We offer the following guidelines regarding assisting distressed students

Your role as a family member can be incredibly stressful at times.  You may not live locally and therefore notice things from afar. You may want to help your child seek assistance, but do not know where to turn.  By expressing interest in your child or loved one who is distressed, you become a integral figure in helping them find the appropriate assistance.  Being that right person at the right time can mean everything to them.  Click on the headings below for more information.

Unlike their friends, their classmates and their professors, your child or loved one may not seek your assistance immediately. That's okay, because you know your child or loved one better than most. You might even be one of the first individuals that notices a change. You don't know if these changes are "normal," so you are unsure of what to do. These changes might include poor grades, problematic behaviors, getting in trouble, isolating themselves from others, engaging in risky behavior, using threatening language, voicing unsafe thoughts, amongst many others. These might be signs of a bigger problem.

If your child or loved one is experiencing a crisis or recently experienced a trauma, which is now causing the student to be unsafe with him/herself or others, call MERPO immediately. The responders can intervene in the emergency situation and will follow the appropriate protocol to assist the student.

In most cases, you will find that when a student is presenting with some of the problematic thoughts and behaviors discussed above, they are not actively experiencing an emergency. Many times in these situations just being a present and active listener can help minimize the stress for them. During your interaction with them you feel they need to talk to someone professionally for more support. In these cases, you have a variety of options:

  • Direct them to call CAPS, so that the student can schedule an appointment or ask questions
  • If you are local (or in town visiting), you can accompany your child or loved one to the CAPS offices (Call first to confirm there is a representative in the office available to help) 
  • Follow up with the student a day or two after concern to see if you can be of further assistance to them

Remember, you always have access to CAPS representatives. If you call the offices and you do not get connected with a person immediately, determine the urgency of your inquiry. Remember, if it is an emergency, call MERPO immediately. Otherwise, please leave a message and a CAPS representative will return your call as soon as possible (please see the confidentiality statement below). If you have any questions or concerns, please use the available resources below:

  • Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS): 478-301-2862
  • Dean of Student's Office (Student Affairs): 478-301-2685
  • Residence Life Office: 478-301-2687 
  • MERPO: 478-301-4357
  • General Mercer Emergency Line: 478-301-5335

When talking with CAPS staff, please remember that we value our client's privacy. If the student you are concerned about is also a client at CAPS, the counselors can not share information about them with you, even if you know they are an active client with CAPS. If the student signs a release for us to disclose privileged information with you, then we will share necessary information to help assist the student. There are some different rules and regulations related to those students who are under the age of 18 years old. In those cases, parents/guardians have additional privileges to seek information.

We appreciate your dedication to your students here at Mercer!

As always, please contact CAPS if you ever have questions about a situation, about our services, about where we are located or what a next step might be.  If someone is in immediate danger, please call MERPO (Macon: 478-301-4357; Atlanta: 678-547-6358) or 911 for immediate assistance.