How to Help a Student in Distress
Guidelines for identifying students in distress:
- Excessive procrastination and very poorly prepared work, especially if inconsistent with previous work.
- Infrequent class attendance with little or no work completed.
- Dependency (e.g. the student hangs around or makes excessive appointments during office hours.)
- Listlessness, lack of energy, or frequent falling asleep in class.
- Marked changes in personal hygiene.
- Impaired speech and disjointed thoughts.
- Repeated requests for special consideration (e.g. deadline extensions.)
- Threats to others.
- Expressed suicidal thoughts (e.g. referring to suicide as a current option.)
- Excessive weight gain or loss.
- Behavior which regularly interferes with effective class management.
- Frequent or high levels of irritable, unruly, abrasive, or aggressive behavior.
- Bizarre behavior that is obviously inappropriate for the situation (e.g. talking to something or someone that is not present.)
- Students who appear overly nervous, tense or tearful.
Guidelines for referring students to the Counseling Center (for non-emergency situations):
- Let the student know specifically what it is that concerns you.
- Make it clear that your referral represents your best judgment about what would help him or her.
- Let the student know what to expect if he/she were to come to the counseling center.
- Let the student know that services are confidential (the counselor will inform the student of the limits of confidentiality at the beginning of the session.)
- Let the student know it is his/her right to accept or not accept the referral.
If the student agrees to the referral:
- Have the student call the counseling center (256-824-6203) to make an appointment or call with the student present.
- You have the option to walk with the student to the Counseling Center (MDH 136).
- It is helpful to inform the counseling center of your concerns regarding the student either by phone, in person, or in writing.
- If the student is unable to come in on his/her own, call the counseling center for assistance, or if the student refuses the referral and you are worried about his/her safety, call the counseling center to consult.
- Remember that after the student’s appointment, the counseling center cannot discuss the student’s case with you without a release of information signed by the student.
- It can be helpful to follow-up with the student to let him/her know you are interested in how things are going
What students can expect when they come in:
- Students will schedule an initial appointment, usually within the week (they can come in the same day if it’s an immediate need – 11:00 am to 12:00 pm or 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm are our immediate need hours every weekday).
- Students will meet with a counselor to discuss the presenting issues, usually for about one hour.
- The counselor will make an assessment of the situation and will help the student get connected with the appropriate services.