Student Health and Counseling Center
Staff & Faculty Support
Faculty and staff are in a unique position to show students compassion who are in distress. You may be the first person to see something distressing in your students since you have frequent contact with them.
Students exhibiting troubling behaviors in your presence are likely having difficulties in various settings including the classroom, with roommates, with family, and even in social settings. Trust your instincts and say something if a student leaves you feeling worried, alarmed or threatened.
Here's how you can help:
Change in Academic Performance/Behavior:
- Poor performance and preparation
- Excessive absences or tardies
- Repeated requests for special treatment
- Unusual or changed interaction
- Avoids participation or dominates discussions
- Anxious when called upon
- Disruptive of class
- Reports roommate or family problems
- Exaggerated emotional responses
- Strange behavior showing loss of contact with reality
- Isolated from friends or family
- Depressed or lethargic mood
- Hyperactive or rapid speech
- Swollen or red eyes
- Change in hygiene or dress
- Dramatic change in weight
References to Suicide, Homicide, or Death:
*These may be present in verbal or written statements.
- Statements of helplessness or hopelessness
- References to suicide
- Homicidal threats
If you choose to try to help a student in distress, or if a student approaches you:
- Ask to talk to the student in private.
- Speak directly and honestly to the student.
- Ask if the student is talking to anyone about the problem (i.e., family or friends). Isolation is rarely useful for those in distress.
- If you initiate contact, use nonjudgmental terms like, "I've noticed you've been absent from class lately and I'm concerned," rather than, "Where have you been lately? You should be more concerned about your grades."
- Listen to thoughts and feelings in a sensitive and non-threatening way.
- Show you understand. Repeat back the essence of what the student has told you. Include both content and feeling. For example: "It sounds like you're not accustomed to this much work and you're worried about failing."
- Avoid evaluating and criticizing even if the student asks your opinion.
- Respect the student's value system, even if you disagree with it.
- Do not ignore strange or inappropriate behavior.
- Do not discuss concerns with other students.
To refer a student of concern or student with significant personal struggles, contact the CARE Team through a secure form, or by calling 559.278.6777.