A referral for counseling should be considered when you believe a student’s problems go beyond your own experience and expertise, or when you feel uncomfortable helping a student with some issue. A referral may be made either because of the way the student’s problems are interfering with his or her academic work or with your teaching, or because observation of the student’s personal behavior raises concerns apart from his or her academic work.
Some more easily recognizable indicators that a student may be experiencing more stress than he or she can handle include:
Marked decline in quality of course work and/or class participation; increased absence from class and/or failure to turn in work
Prolonged depression, suggested by a sad expression, apathy, weight loss, sleeping difficulty, tearfulness
Nervousness, agitation, excessive worry; irritability, aggressiveness, non-stop talking
Bizarre, strange behavior or speech
Extreme dependency on faculty/staff, including spending much of his or her time visiting during office hours or other times
Marked change in personal hygiene
Direct statements indicating family problems, including personal losses such as death of a family member or the break-up of a relationship
Expressions of concern about a student by peers
Talk of suicide, either directly or indirectly such as, “I won’t be around to take that exam anyway” or “I’m not worried about getting a job, I won’t need one”
Comments in a student’s paper that arouse concern
Everyone experiences stress differently, and many disturbances may be relatively transient. However, you may become alarmed by even brief changes that are extreme, or by significant changes that continue for some time. If there is doubt about the seriousness of the problem, you are encouraged to consult a counselor at CAPS.
For information on handling mental health emergencies, click HERE
If a student agrees that counseling might be useful, there are several possible steps to take, depending on the urgency of the situation.
- Give the student information about CAPS and encourage him or her to call.
- Offer to let the student call from your office right then.
- Accompany the student yourself to make sure he or she arrives at the counseling center, and provide the center with any necessary information. (We appreciate you calling ahead if the student is being brought over or sent directly, so that plans can be made to have a counselor available)
If you don’t expect to speak to a student in-person (e.g., only through emails), or you have an urgent concern, the Dean of Students Office can reach out to him/her in a more active way.