UAH

How to Help a Student in Distress

helpingGuidelines 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.