Faculty/Staff Referral Guide

What You Can Do If You Are Concerned About A Student’s Emotional Health

For additional information on how to support students with specific issues (including depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, suicidal thoughts, and much more), check out the “For Concerned Others” section of the University of Chicago Virtual pamphlet page. This page contains brochures written by counseling centers around the country specifically to help faculty, staff, and other concerned persons in assisting students with a variety of issues. Another useful link, “Assisting the Emotionally Distressed Student,”discusses guidelines for intervention with “Violence and the Verbally Aggressive,” “Poor Contact with Reality,” “The Suspicious Student,” and other special situations.

Suggestions For Talking With a Student About Your Concerns:

Talk in private.
Be calm and matter of fact (this may help the student to manage their emotions).
Focus on specific behaviors, not labels or diagnoses.
Listen carefully and reflect back to the student what you are hearing.
Respect the student’s values.
Convey your support and understanding of the pressure the student is experiencing.
Help the student to identify options for addressing the problem.
Set limits – don’t offer help beyond your comfort zone.
Consult with CCHP if you are concerned about how to best help the student.

What’s An Effective Way To Go About Making A Referral To Counseling?

Suggest that it might be helpful for the student to talk to someone in the Center for Counseling and Health Promotion about their concern.
Reassure the student that CCHP is used by many students who face normal concerns of dealing with college stresses.
Emphasize that their discussions with a counselor are completely confidential–no information will be released to anyone without their specific written permission (with certain exceptions as required by law or to protect physical safety in case of imminent harm to self/others).
Encourage them to call CCHP at 330-1707 to set up an appointment; if you feel they need extra encouragement, you might have them call from your office or walk them over in person to schedule an appointment.
Let them know it is their choice whether or not to go to counseling; emphasize your support whatever they choose.
Follow up at a later date to check in on how they are doing and whether they followed up your referral (if the student gives permission, CCHP will notify you that they did come in for an appointment).

What If The Student Is Making References To Suicide?

Ask a direct question, “Have you been thinking about suicide?” It is a myth that asking people about suicide will encourage them to consider it as an option.
If it appears that the student has an actual suicide plan or does not feel safe, get help immediately by contacting CCHP (330-1707) or Ann Garvey, Associate Dean for Student Affairs (330-1168).
If it appears that student or another person is in immediate danger, or if the student’s behaviors are out of control, call Campus Security at 330-1717.
Trust your instincts. If you feel this is serious, consult and get help.
(Adapted from materials from Hamline University and the University of Washington)