U of S faculty & staff are in a unique position to demonstrate compassion for U of S students in distress. Students may feel alone, isolated, & even hopeless when faced with academic & life challenges. These feelings can easily disrupt academic performance & may lead to difficulty with coping & other serious consequences. You may be the first person to SEE SOMETHING distressing in your students since you have frequent & prolonged contact with them.
Students exhibiting troubling behaviors in your presence are likely having difficulties in various settings including the classroom, with roommates, with family, & even in social settings. Trust your instincts & SAY SOMETHING if a student leaves you feeling worried, alarmed, or threatened!
Sometimes students cannot or will not turn to family or friends. DO SOMETHING! Your expression of concern may be a critical factor of saving a student’s academic career or even their life.
SITUATION & RESPONSE
- The student’s conduct is clearly & imminently reckless, disorderly, dangerous, or threatening including self-harm behavior. Call University Police (570-941-7777) or 911.
- The student shows signs of distress, but I am unsure how serious it is. My interaction has left me feeling uneasy and/or really concerned about the student. Consult with the University Counseling Center (570-941-7620). Hours: 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. For after hours consultation, call University Police & ask for the counselor on-call.
- I’m not concerned for the student’s immediate safety, but he or she is having significant academic and/or personal issues and could use some support or additional resources. Refer students to an appropriate campus resource. See Campus Resources.
INDICATORS OF DISTRESS
- Marked impairment in functioning.
- Noted isolation.
- Significant decrease in energy and motivational level.
- Marked change in behavior (e.g., appearance change, erratic class attendance or class performance, sudden unwillingness to communicate, drop in grades.
- Alcohol and/or other substance abuse).
- Eating disorders and/or behaviors.
- Self-deprecation, excessive self-criticism and guilt.
- Statements reflecting a sense of worthlessness, hopelessness or helplessness.
- Psychosomatic symptoms such as tension-headaches, nausea, change in appetite or in sleeping habits.
- Anxiety, depression, stress and burnout.
- Traumatic changes in personal relationships, such as divorce, death, or ending a relationship with a significant other.
- Academic problems such as career indecision, dissatisfaction with academic major, inability to concentrate and difficulty with workload.
- Threatening bodily injury or harm to others.
- Violent behavior.
- Paranoid views of the world.
- Marked disorientation and/or bizarre behavior.
- References to suicide.
SOME SUGGESTED WAYS TO RECOMMEND COUNSELING
When you think that a student might benefit from therapy, you may wish to refer that student directly to the University Counseling Center. In raising the issue with the student, it is best to be supportive and straightforward about your concern for his/her welfare.
You may want to speak specifically about the behaviors that have raised; your concern so that both you and the student share the same frame of reference about the situation. Most importantly, by speaking directly, you convey your respect and caring for the individual.
Here are some helpful expressions of care:
"You seem very upset; perhaps it might be helpful to call or visit the Counseling Center to talk about this with a clinician."
"Counseling is often helpful for people who feel the way you do. If you would like, you may use my telephone to call the Counseling Center to find out how you can make an appointment. If you would like , I would be glad to walk over with you to find out about speaking with a clinician."
"You don't have to continue feeling so depressed (anxious, isolated, stressed-out, angry, etc.). Counseling can help. Why don't you stop by the Counseling Center and speak with a clinician?"
Although some people need time in order to think over the decision to seeking counseling, a caring and gentle suggestion is often enough. If a student says emphatically, "NO", then it is important to respect and accept that decision and to perhaps leave the door open for later reconsideration. Don't hesitate to follow-up privately with a student to let him/her know that you're available to talk and to ask if he/she made a successful contact with the Counseling Center.