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 (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.
- Let the student know what to expect if he/she were to come to the Counseling Center. Feel free to consult with us if helpful.
- 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. 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:
- Students will schedule an initial appointment, usually within the week.
- If the student needs services on the same day, a staff member will consult with the student to arrange an appointment.
- Students will meet with a counselor to discuss the issues of concern.
- The counselor will make an assessment of the situation and will help the student locate the appropriate services.