How will I know if a student is in distress or needs help?
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if a student is experiencing serious distress, or is just having a bad day. This can become even more difficult if you do not know your student well. In general, here are some common warning signs to look out for:
- Uncharacteristically poor performance or preparation for that particular student
- Disruptive classroom behavior that represents a marked change from previous behaviors
- Excessive absence or tardiness, especially if they had previously not exhibited this pattern
- Marked changes in demeanor and how they interact with classmates
- Referring to suicide or homicide in verbal statements or writing
- Asking you for help with personal problems
- Changes in personal hygiene
- Dramatic weight gain or loss
- Changes in level of alertness in the classroom
- Uncharacteristic irritability, dramatic changes in mood, intense emotions and/or outbursts
- Evidence of self-harm (cutting, burning, etc.)
If I think a student is in distress, what can I do to help?
If you’ve been able to build some rapport with your student, it may be helpful to speak with them privately about your concerns. Making sure to address the issue in a secure location will help to minimize embarrassment and defensiveness. The student may ask you to keep information you discuss confidential, so be sure to let them know that you may not be able to honor that in all cases. Remember, faculty and staff members are mandated reporters when it comes to matters of child abuse/neglect. If you find yourself in a position in which you believe you must make a report, please contact our office for assistance.
You can express your concern to the student in a non-judgmental manner and be honest with them about your ability to help them. Please provide your student with our contact information and refer them to our office. Your student may or may not choose to pursue counseling, but you can let them know you care and that there are resources available to them on campus.
If you believe your student is in imminent danger of harming themselves or others, attempt to contact the counseling center staff immediately. If we cannot be reached, please contact public safety.
I’m concerned about a student, but not sure if I should talk to them about it. How can I know when to do this?
We are here to help you if you have questions/concerns about your student. While we cannot divulge confidential information we may have about them, we can certainly help to give our feedback regarding the situation. We are here to consult with you as needed and to help provide further guidance on how to best approach a student.
How will I know if a student I referred to counseling has followed through?
Often times you will not know unless a student chooses to disclose this to you. Students who present for counseling and indicate they were referred by an instructor are often asked if they are comfortable with the counselor confirming their attendance in the event that their instructor asks. We know that as faculty members you are often very concerned for your students and want to be sure they are doing well. However, we do ask that you respect their privacy and our bounds of confidentiality if they are not comfortable disclosing this information with you.
Can I receive counseling services for my own personal concerns?
Faculty members and staff at East Georgia State College may consult with Counseling Center staff and may be seen in a crisis as appropriate. However, we will refer you to a provider in the community following any crisis intervention/consultations provided. Faculty and staff will not be eligible for on-going counseling services due to ethical standards regarding dual relationships.