Helping the Student in Distress
Mild to Moderate Signs of Distress
As someone who interacts regularly with students, you may pick up on cues that indicate a student could be in distress.
Mild to moderate signs of distress may include:
- Consistent grade problems or changes from good to poor grades
- Excessive absences, especially if a change from the norm
- Changed pattern of interaction with you or class: avoiding participation, excessive anxiety when called upon, too aggressive
- Depressed, lethargic demeanor
- Dramatic weight loss
- Very rapid speech or activity
- Change in appearance, dress, or hygiene
- Excessive sleepiness
- Repeated requests for special attention
- Tearfulness or anxiety when talking with you
- Verbal reports of hopelessness or helplessness
- Sudden onset of behavior that appears odd, abnormal, and/or inappropriate
- Direct communication to you of a problem: e.g. “I am having a tough time….”
- Your own subjective sense that you are providing more personal-type counseling than academic counseling and/or you feel burdened by the student’s problems or demands for help
How to Refer a Student to Counseling
- Share with the student that you are concerned, give your observations and/or the student’s own report.
- Inform the student that you think s/he could benefit from speaking to a counselor. Assure the student that the counselors work with students on all kinds of problems, and none is too big or too small for them to address.
- Show the student where to find information about Counseling Services on the Daemen website, or hand them a brochure about Counseling Services.
- If the student seems reluctant to contact a counselor on their own, offer to make the call right now from your office with the student present.
- You may also offer to walk the student over to the counseling office (DS room 228). Please note, however, that not all of our counselors are available or on campus full time. It is recommended that you call the counselor first to inquire if the student may be seen right away.
Extreme Signs of Distress: What to Do in an Emergency
An emergency involves any of the following:
- Behavior or verbal threat indicating harm to oneself
- Behavior or verbal threat indicating harm to someone else
- Inability to communicate clearly (slurred speech, unconnected or disjointed thoughts)
What You Can Do
- Stay calm
- Get help. All threats of suicide or violence against someone else should be taken seriously. If the threat is immediate, call 911 without hesitation. If the threat is not immediate, consult immediately with a counselor, crisis services (a 24 hour helpline 716-834-3131), or residence life (if the student resides on campus).
- If the student is angry and violent, or out of control, keep yourself safe and call 911 as well as campus security (ext. 8246).
- If the student is calm, offer a quiet place for her/him to talk. Do not leave the person alone. Alert another staff member that an emergency may be unfolding so you are not left alone to deal with it by yourself.
You are certainly free to ask the student to give you feedback regarding their following through with contacting a counselor. However, please be aware that without a signed consent, the counselors cannot divulge any information about a student’s contact with us, as we are legally and ethically bound by confidentiality.
If you are unsure about whether or not to refer a student for counseling, or if you would find it helpful to discuss the behavior of a student that concerns you, please feel free to consult with any of the counselors.