We recognize that faculty and staff are often the first community members to hear about or notice a student showing signs of distress.

When you see signs of distress, we rely on you to bring them to our attention by sending a referral through the online Student of Concern Reporting Form. Once we know a student is in need of help, we can reach out and ensure they are connected to the appropriate resources.

 

How to Help a Student

Making a referral to the Student Support and Intervention Team

After noticing signs of distress, faculty and staff can refer a student either through the online Student of Concern Reporting Form or by calling the assistant dean of students directly(x5082).

Signs of distress could be physical, emotional, and/or interpersonal. In the classroom, some students may withdraw while others become disruptive. Other common signs of distress include a disheveled appearance, changes in daily habits or academic performance, an inability to focus, or explicitly mentioning hopelessness or struggling.  Trust your instincts; if you feel like something is wrong, it probably is. For additional information about warning signs and what may cause them, click here.

After a report is submitted, you will see a page confirming that the report has been successfully entered. At this point the information provided is distributed to members of the Student Support and Intervention Team, who will work to determine the best course of action. In all cases, team members prioritize providing assistance that will keep the individual student and the community safe, and that will be most helpful to the student in need.

Multiple reports are accepted and encouraged if new information about the student or his/her situation arises.

Managing a Disruptive Student

Students may express their distress in a disruptive manner in a classroom, athletics practice or club/organization. Specifically, the student may make unrelated comments, challenge authority, speak offensively, or attempt to command attention.

If a student’s behavior is disruptive to your group, act as soon as possible to stop the behavior and prevent escalation, speak with the student privately to express your concerns, and then refer the student through the online reporting form. In the event of a crisis situation where the safety, health, or well-being of the College community is in danger, call Public Safety immediately at (610) 330-4444.

Talking With a Student Directly

Talking with a student about your concern can be difficult or awkward, depending on your relationship. However, early intervention is key, so here are some tips for getting the conversation started.

Focus on your observations. Use concrete details and clearly iterate why you’re concerned. Avoid using judgmental or accusatory language. One strategy for is to use “I” statements (instead of “you” statements). A good way to start might be, “I’ve noticed that you haven’t been acting like yourself lately, is something going on?” or, “It seems like you were distracted/angry in class today. Are you okay?”

Listen. Once a student opens up, actively listen. Avoid interrupting or changing the subject. Resist the temptation to interject advice or your own personal opinions. Instead, wait until they are finished speaking and then gently let them know about campus resources, such as the Counseling or Health Centers. If you are comfortable doing so, you can offer to call with them and/or walk them to their appointment. If you are unsure what resources may be of use, you can call the assistant dean and ask for suggestions.

Encouraging Students to Practice Self-Care

Faculty and staff may encounter situations where one student’s investment in or management of another student’s mental health has become overwhelming and is causing negative effects in their own life.

For example, a student may repeatedly stay up all night to talk with their roommate, and then miss class or do poorly on tests the following morning.  In cases where this happens more than once, and particularly if it happens regularly, faculty and staff should attempt to sit down and speak with the student about effective self-care and healthy boundaries within relationships.  Assure them that others at the College are prepared to help their friend, and have the training and experience to do so effectively.  Remind students of their right to self-care and reassure that setting boundaries is not selfish; we must take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. Encourage them to speak with their friends and ask for boundaries in a clear, calm, and concise manner. Advocate that the student take time for him or herself to relax and de-stress.

Remember: Help is Always Available

You are not responsible for providing personal counseling to a student.

Rather, your role is to encourage students to take advantage of campus resources, including our Health & Counseling Centers, and to alert the college to any troubling behaviors by completing the Student of Concern Reporting Form or calling Public Safety at 610-330-4444 for any emergency situations.