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Faculty/Staff Resource Page

College students today often experience considerable school-related stress. In addition to the pressure to achieve success, students are faced with a variety of personal stressors and pressures. Many of these personal stressors are age-related developmental factors, some are situational, and some are psychological. Although many students cope successfully with the demands of college life, for some the pressures can be overwhelming.

Faculty and staff members interact with students daily and are in an excellent position to recognize students who are troubled or distressed. You are most likely one of the first people a student reaches out to for help. Your ability to recognize signs of emotional distress and to make an initial intervention can have a significant impact on a student's future well being. In many cases, a student benefits greatly from supportive listening and advice from a trusted faculty or staff member. In other cases, a faculty or staff member may wish to refer the student to counseling services.

Signs and symptoms of student distress:
  • Excessive procrastination and poorly prepared work, especially if inconsistent with previous work (grades consistently decline)
  • Infrequent class attendance with little or no work completed; excessive tardiness
  • Listlessness, lack of energy, or frequently falling asleep in class
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene or dress
  • Repeated requests for special consideration (e.g., deadline extensions, days off)
  • Avoiding participation or dominating discussions
  • Disruptive behavior that regularly interferes with class management
  • Unexplained crying; swollen or red eyes
  • Noticeable weight gain or loss
  • Frequent or high levels of irritable, unruly, abrasive, or aggressive behavior
  • Student has cuts on body or mentions cutting
  • Regularly discusses (or writes about) personal problems
  • Bizarre behavior that is obviously inappropriate for the situation
  • Expressed suicidal thoughts or covert expressions of suicidal thoughts**
  • Threats to others (verbal or written)**

** Note: These referrals are not optional

Suggested guidelines for talking with a student:
  • Talk to the student in a private setting.
  • Listen carefully and express your concern.
  • Repeat back the essence of what the student tells you.
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgemental.
  • Suggest Counseling Services as a resource to help the student.
  • Assure the student that counseling is confidential and free of charge.
  • Remind the student that successful people seek support when needed.

How to make a non-emergency referral:
  • Encourage the student to contact Counseling Services to schedule an appointment.
  • Offer to let the student call from your office (provides extra encouragement and support).
  • Call Counseling Services from your office with the student present and let the student talk.
  • Walk with the student to Counseling Services.
  • Try to follow up with students you refer as a way of conveying continued concern.
If the student is in imminent danger of hurting self or others, call 911.
About confidentiality:
  • It is normal to want to find out what happened and how you can continue to help a student you refer to Counseling Services. However, counselors are bound by confidentiality as defined by the Law and our Ethics Code.
  • We cannot give information about the student, confirm or deny that a student has seen a counselor, or discuss specifics of the situation without written permission from the student.
  • If the student is a threat to him/herself or to others, law obligates the counselor to take action.