The college years can be stressful for many. While most students cope adequately with the challenges these years bring, some students find the various pressures of life unmanageable or unbearable, and this interferes with learning. As faculty, teaching assistants, or staff you may encounter distressed students.Â Many of these distressed students have not sought counseling and may be unaware of the services available to them. Your role is an important one in identifying students who are in distress and assisting them to find the resources available to help themselves. The following guidelines might be useful.
SIGNS INDICATING A NEED FOR REFERRAL
- abrupt/radical changes in behavior, quality of work, or personal hygiene
- isolation from others
- dramatic weight loss or gain
- inability to make decisions despite repeated attempts to clarify and to encourage
- repeated requests for special consideration
- poor attendance with little or no work completed
- sudden outbursts of anger, high levels of irritability; aggressive, violent, or abrasive behavior
- homicidal threats
- attention/memory difficulty; distorted thoughts; impaired speech
- alcohol/drug abuse
- normal emotions exhibited to an extreme degree or for an excessive period of time, e.g., tearfulness, nervousness, fearfulness
- chronic fatigue or low energy; listlessness, lack of energy, frequently falling asleep in class
- suicidal thoughts or feelings of low self-esteem
- dependency on you or others, e.g., making unnecessary appointments with you
- bizarre behaviors that are obviously inappropriate to the situation, e.g., hearing voices
- behavior that consistently interferes with classroom management
REFERRALS MAY ALSO BE INDICATED FOR VARIOUS ISSUES
such as but not limited to:
- social/personal concerns
- substance abuse
- sexual assault
- relationship concerns
- racial/cultural adjustment
- lesbian/gay concerns
- extreme test anxiety
GUIDELINES FOR INTERACTION
- talk to the student in private
- listen carefully
- show concern and interest
- repeat the essence of what the student has told you
- avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental
- point out that the situation doesn’t have to reach crisis proportions for him/her to benefit from professional help
- suggest the University Counseling Center as a resource, offer a UCC brochure, and discuss this with the student
- explain that counseling at the UCC is free and confidential
- know your own limits regarding intervening; involve yourself only as far as you want to go
HOW TO MAKE A REFERRAL TO THE UNIVERSITY COUNSELING CENTER
- Suggest that the student call or come in to the Counseling Center to make an appointment. Give the UCC phone number and location.
- If you want to be sure the student makes an appointment, call the UCC while the student is in your office. Write down the appointment information, time, date, counselor, and location for the student.
- If you consider the situation to be an emergency, please convey this information when contacting the UCC.
- Sometimes it is helpful for you to accompany the student to the UCC.
- If you are concerned about a student, but are uncertain of the appropriateness of the referral, fell free to call the UCC for a consultation.
SERVICES OFFERED THROUGH THE UNIVERSITY COUNSELING CENTER
- individual counseling
- couples counseling
- group counseling
- classroom presentations
- crisis/sexual assault response
FACULTY AND STAFF
The UCC provides the same services to faculty and staff free of charge. The referral information explained above also applies to co-workers.
ON CAMPUS REFERRAL SOURCES
University Counseling Center
224 Elkins Hall
University Health Services
Betsy Cheramie Ayo Hall