Congratulations on becoming a part of our family here at Fordham. As a Jesuit Catholic University, we go the extra mile in caring for our students, even amid the challenge of a national increase in mental health concerns among college-age students.
Each year at the Summer Orientation Programs, I give a talk for parents about what to expect during your sons’ and daughters’ first year with us. A centerpiece of this presentation is mental health and various aspects of Fordham’s work with students who may be struggling with problems or challenges in this difficult area. I hope to see you at the presentation, but if you are not able to come to Rose Hill this summer, I thought I would include this brief column in our Family Newsletter to touch on this important topic and some of Fordham’s approaches.
First, we don’t try to face this challenge alone. A fact-of-life well-understood among those of us who work at colleges and universities is that students know far more about one another than we do—personal struggles, anxieties and even illness. With this in mind, Fordham recruits and trains many of the students your sons and daughters will be meeting in the months to come to help us help one another. Resident assistants who live among our students in our residence halls, orientation leaders who will help our first-year students become Fordham men and women, peer educators and students in a variety of other roles are a key part of our effort to provide assistance. Recruited for their capacity to care for and connect with others, these students receive specific training and supervision. They are an indispensable part of the network with which students who may need help can connect and get to further assistance. The seriousness with which students take this role—that of our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers—is a great source of pride for us and a huge support for the professional staff working to help students in areas like mine.
Another source of pride is the connection we seek to make with parents when it comes to caring for our students, and this is the core of my note to you today as a fellow parent or guardian. Please connect with us here at Fordham if you are worried about your son or daughter in any way. From the smallest concerns, to a bout of homesickness or to the more serious struggles we see with anxiety, depression and managing the medications that often accompany these challenges—we are here to help. We will work with you and your student together to try and provide the best possible assistance, from a casual conversation with a member of the staff, to Pastoral Counseling in our Campus Ministry area to clinical counseling in the Counseling Service and even outside referrals to provide for more serious and specialized care. We will even be happy work with you behind the scenes to help your student confidentially or to help you gain some perspective on how we can assist with problems which you may be surprised to learn are more common than they first appear.
As dean of students, it’s my role and the role of my staff in Residential Life to connect with parents and students about these kinds of concerns and, in turn, connect students with care from our colleagues in Residential Life, Counseling and Psychological Services, Campus Ministry or Student Health Services. I include my contact information at the bottom of the page and invite you to call or write if you would like further information or want to discuss a specific problem or worry.
I look forward to talking with you.
Dean of Students at Rose Hill