Parent Resource – “Worried about my College kid”

Hello Parents and Families!

Listen to The Chill Factory’s podcast episode, Worried About My College Kid

A talk with Todd Sevig, Director of Counseling at the University of Michigan, about when and how parents and allies can bring up mental health and suicide with their kids and friends. Given students’ ongoing mental health challenges and the news this week of TV personality and former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst’s suicide, the chill factory thought you would find it a valuable resource.

Health Insurance Waiver/Enrollment

In an effort to ensure all students have access to healthcare and are sufficiently covered by health insurance in case of illness or injury, Kalamazoo College requires students to carry adequate health insurance.

Visit the Kalamazoo College Health Insurance Waiver/Enrollment page on the Student Health Center website for:

  • Important annual dates
  • The College health insurance plan
  • Waiving the Health Insurance Plan
  • Additional health insurance resources

Coronavirus Information

To the Campus Community:

We write to provide information about the coronavirus infection that has been in the news. This is a new form of virus from the class of coronavirus. It appears to spread from person to person, like the influenza virus. If a person has a fever, cough, shortness of breath, AND has been to Wuhan China in the past 14 days, they need to let us know and we will work with the local and state health departments to evaluate and treat as appropriate. Treatment is symptomatic only, sleep, fluids and cough medicine if needed. Prevention is the same with other viruses as below.

We currently do not have anyone on campus or in Kalamazoo that we are aware of that is carrying the virus. We are in close contact with local and state health officials and pay close attention to the updates and recommendations from the CDC.

Anyone in our campus community with friends or relatives in the affected areas are welcomed and encouraged to seek the support they need from the counseling and health centers.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Right now, 2019-nCoV has not been found to be spreading in the United States, so there are no additional precautions recommended for the general public to take. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.

Religious Observance and Accommodation

The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life is deeply committed to helping students pursue religious observance in their tradition and fashion. Students may always contact Chaplain Liz Candido to find local resources including other religious students, rides to major holiday services, and local congregations and groups. The college cafeteria works with our Jewish and Muslim students during Passover, Sukkot, and Ramadan to provide food that meets dietary requirements and is available at unusual times and unusual places. At various times of the year, Christian worship services are offered.

If a religious holiday conflicts with classroom obligations, students are asked to work individually with their professors to find accommodations before their first missed class. Students are often hesitant to approach their professors about the need to miss class. We believe, however, that learning how to appropriately advocate for oneself is an important skill. If students need extraordinary or additional help, or if faculty need assistance determining an adequate accommodation, both are invited to contact the Chaplain.

For more information on religious accommodation, or about religious life, Chaplain Liz Candido may be reached at or at 269.337.7361.

Mental Health and Study Abroad – A message from the Counseling Center and Health Center

Dear Students and Parents,

We are writing this letter at the request of the Center for International Programs to provide you with the clearest information and thinking we have about Study Abroad for students who have psychiatric disorders or psychological difficulties. Our three major concerns are that students maintain their treatment plans while abroad, inform important personnel of their disorders/concerns, and take good care of their medication needs.

First, it is critical that students stay with their prescribed treatment plan to make study abroad a success. Our experience is that students who do not follow through (especially with medication) end up having a much more difficult experience, causing the host family and program directors serious worry, and/or having to return to the U.S. before the end of the program. The best way to avoid these difficult outcomes is to follow the plan that you’ve made with your providers and to be in touch with them or with providers in the host country if you notice any concerning symptoms or have any very disruptive experiences.

Second, it is in the best interest of students who have been diagnosed with psychiatric disorders or who know they suffer from psychological difficulties to fill out the Health History form accurately and to let the program manager at K and the program director at the site know of their situation as early as possible. Some students are hesitant to provide this information. Over the years, we have found that clear communication makes a significant difference in students’ experiences because a safety network can be developed. That network seems to reassure both students and parents and puts all of us in the best possible position if there is a major problem.

Some students are not forthcoming about their history with mental health because they believe that Study Abroad will provide a respite from their problems. In our experience, that is not usually the case. There are so many challenges in living in a different country and some of those challenges create considerable stress. We have found that the challenges of a new environment can easily exacerbate psychological concerns and psychiatric symptoms.

The third important concern is medication. It is very helpful to take all the medication that you’ll need with you, along with a letter from the prescribing provider indicating why you are taking the medication. If for some reason that cannot happen, it is important that you make a connection with a prescribing provider early in your stay abroad. We have found that even medications with the same name may be slightly different because they are manufactured abroad. We also know that it is often difficult to get an appointment at the last minute and running out of medication can complicate life a great deal.

Students often wonder about discussing their mental health situation with their host parents. Typically, a pretty matter of fact statement early on can be helpful (e.g., “I take medication because I have experienced depression. I don’t think you need to worry about me because the medication is effective and I’ve learned a lot about managing my difficulties. My parents are completely informed of my situation and are confident that I will be able to do well here. I also want you to know that you do not have to worry that I will hurt myself.”) One other note about home stays for those who take medication: it is extremely important to make sure that you keep your medication safe and out of the way of children or pets.

Finally for those on medication, it is very helpful to carry a list of your medications with the copy of your passport in case you need emergency medical help. Knowing the medication you’re taking can make a significant difference to the health professionals in emergency situations.


The Kalamazoo College Counseling Center and Health Center