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Parents & Family Member Resources

The transition to college is an important time for students and their loved ones. UW–Madison takes the health and safety of your student seriously and our relationship with you is a critical partnership in supporting your student’s academic success and fostering a rich and rewarding undergraduate experience.

Before your student comes to campus

  1. Read the student entrance letter.
  2. Talk with your student about alcohol consumption, sexual assault, and healthy choices, and read our parent guide.
  3. Review immunizations and ensure that your student is up to date
  4. Ensure that your student fills out their Immunization and Health History Form
  5. Ensure that your student has completed the required alcohol and sexual violence prevention programs.
  6. Questions? Call 608-265-5600

Advance directive information

UHS medical and mental health records are protected by federal law. UHS does not disclose information to parents or guardians for students over the age of 18 without the student’s consent. Students have the right to receive information about and assistance with advance directives and designating someone (known as a health care power of attorney) to make health care decisions for them in the event that they are unable. Being a Designated Agent for Advance Directives or Health Care Power of Attorney does not automatically allow access to the medical records. A telephone/verbal authorization form must be completed by your student and is valued for one year. This must indicate a specific description of the information to be discussed. This should be completed after your student has established medical or mental health care at UHS.

Learn more about Advance Directives

Parents concerned about non-emergent health care situations with their students should ask their student to grant UHS permission to speak with parents. UHS requires written consent to formally release health records but students may grant permission over the phone for UHS clinical staff to speak with a parent or guardian.

We are often asked if the student can sign a “blanket” release of information form and our answer is no. In health care matters, such prospective (advance) releases are not legally defensible and can be revoked by the student at any time.

With a student’s permission, UHS clinicians speak with parents regularly and appreciate parental involvement in a student’s care when appropriate. UHS clinicians work closely with students and their parents when a student experiences a significant, but not life threatening, illness or injury. Clinicians encourage students to allow them to contact their parents in those cases, however, if the student declines, the clinician must legally respect the student’s decision.

What to pack

We know you have a lot to pack, but don’t forget these health essentials

  • Health insurance card (and prescription medication card, if separate)
  • Names and phone numbers of home primary care and specialty care providers
  • Prescription medicines and refill information
  • Thermometer
  • Pain reliever: ibuprofen and/or naproxen
  • Fever reducer: acetaminophen
  • Throat lozenges
  • Antihistamine for allergy relief
  • PeptoBismol/antacid
  • Basic first-aid supplies: adhesive bandages, antibacterial ointment, hydrocortisone cream
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Ice pack and heating pad

Mental health support

Mental Health Services is also a resource to parents, roommates, and friends who may be concerned about a student or who want more information on a particular mental health issue.

Concerns may include suicidal thoughts or actions, self-injury, anxiety, depression, domestic violence or stalking, sexual assault, psychotic symptoms, substance abuse, eating disorders and situational crises related to academic performance, relationships, transition, and other difficulties.

Our staff are a resource to campus partners including faculty and staff members in academic units as well as campus offices to help address mental health issues and well-being.

Our 24-hour mental health crisis services are available to students in distress as well as people concerned about a student.

Conversations about alcohol, sexual assault, and mental health

With your student entering college, your role and relationship will change. This is a great time to begin, or continue, conversations about alcohol choices, consent, sexual assault, and your student’s mental health and well-being. Consult the Parent and Family Program website to discover ways to help your student prepare for new challenges they may encounter during their college career.