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Student Counseling Services

Information For Faculty, Staff, and Administrators

Services Provided at SHAC

Referral of a Distressed Student:

How You Can Help

Students often encounter a great deal of stress during the course of their academic experience. While most students cope successfully with the challenges that these years bring, an increasing number of students find that the various pressures of life can seem overwhelming and unmanageable.

As faculty members you may encounter these troubled students in your offices or your classrooms. Many of these students have not sought any psychological intervention. Thus, your role is crucial in identifying and referring students who are in distress.

Some Signs and Symptoms of a Student in Distress

  • Excessive procrastination and poorly prepared work, especially if this is inconsistent with previous work.
  • Infrequent class attendance with little or no work completed
  • Social withdrawal
  • Listlessness, lack of energy, or frequent falling asleep in class
  • Marked changes in mood or personality
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene
  • Repeated requests for special consideration, e.g., deadline extensions
  • Impaired speech or garbled, disjointed thoughts
  • Behavior which regularly interferes with the decorum or effective management of your class
  • Overtly suicidal thoughts, e.g., referring to suicide as an option
  • High levels of irritability, unruly, or abrasive behavior
  • Inability to make decisions despite your repeated attempts to clarify and to encourage
  • Dramatic weight loss or weight gain
  • Bizarre or strange behavior
  • Normal emotions that are displayed to an extreme degrees or for a prolonged period of time, e.g., fearfulness, tearfulness, nervousness

Guidelines for Interaction

  • Talk to a student in private
  • Listen carefully
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental
  • Consider the Counseling Center as a resource and discuss a referral with the student
  • If the student resists help and you are worried, contact the Counseling Center to discuss your concerns

How to Make a Referral to the Counseling Center

There are several ways of making a referral to the counseling center.

Appointments can be scheduled either in person or by phone through the Counseling Center front desk, at 215.596.8536. In person - come to the first floor of Whitecar Hall, suite 1200.

In the event of an emergency or crisis after regular office hours call campus security at 215.596.7000 to initiate emergency procedures.

If you are a faculty or staff member you can discuss with the student which way he or she might feel most comfortable. Usually the best way is to give the student our phone number and have them call. You might offer to have them call while they are in your office. Another possibility is to offer to make the call for them while they are in your office. If a student is particularly distressed, do not hesitate to walk them over to the Counseling Center and introduce them to the Counseling Center receptionist, or another staff member at the counseling center.

You can also always refer a student about whom you are concerned to the SEIRT team.

Log into the USciences Blackboard site
Under the “communities” tab, click on Student Affairs.
Scroll down to the USciences Student Early Intervention Response Team section and click on the link to access the form.

Some Warning Signs of Substance Abuse

If you think a student or friend might have a substance abuse problem there may be some behaviors or symptoms that are easily observable and could indicate the presence of a problem. The following signs and symptoms might indicate that someone has or is at risk for having a problem with drugs or alcohol.

  • You have heard reports or seen the student drinking at a school function.
  • The student complains of not having enough money.
  • The student has been involved in disciplinary actions.
  • The student's grades have suffered.
  • The student has been involved in accidents.
  • The student misses classes or appointments.
  • The student is having difficulties in relationships with peers.
  • The student has been involved in sexual activity he or she later regrets.
  • The student has had emotional outbursts.
  • The student appears agitated, depressed, or anxious.
  • The student reports having attempted to modify their drinking or drug use.
  • The student has experienced weight loss, medical difficulties, or is exhibiting poor hygiene.

If students show any of these signs it might be indicative of a problem. However, many of these signs are indicators of other problems not related to substance abuse but issues that might benefit from being addressed. Most students respond favorably to someone approaching them from the standpoint of a non-judgmental support resource. You might suggest that they visit the, "Am I at Risk" page of the Counseling Center website or further suggest that they speak with someone at the Counseling Center to address some of their concerns.

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