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The Role of Faculty, Staff, and Administrators

Faculty, staff, and administrators can play a vital role in helping students find appropriate assistance if troubles arise. In many cases, the caring support of a concerned adult can be a significant catalyst in helping a student address their needs. This section describes three typical problems college students may face and suggests tips on how you can make a successful referral.

How to Detect if a Student is Having Trouble

At some time in college every student feels stressed, depressed, or anxious; however, when these feelings persist over a long period it may be a sign of a problem which is greater than the stressful situations students generally face. The following are three levels of behaviors which indicate distress, and for which counseling is suggested.

Three Typical Situations

LEVEL 1. Although not disruptive to others, these behaviors may indicate that a student needs help.

  • fluctuation in grades;
  • excessive absences;
  • unusual pattern of interaction, i.e., totally avoiding participation, excessively anxious when called upon, dominating discussion;
  • excessive activity and very rapid speech, swollen eyes, change in personal dress or hygiene, anxious behavior and/or falling asleep in class.

LEVEL 2. These behaviors may indicate significant emotional distress and also a reluctance or inability to acknowledge a need for personal help:

  • repeated requests for special consideration;
  • new or consistent behavior which pushes the limits of decorum;
  • unusual or exaggerated emotional response.

LEVEL 3. These behaviors usually show students who are in obvious crisis and who need emergency care:

  • highly disruptive behavior;
  • garbled, slurred speech, unconnected or disjointed thoughts;
  • seeing/ hearing things that aren't present, beliefs or actions greatly at odds with reality;
  • overt suicidal thoughts;
  • homicidal threats

Making the Referral

As faculty, staff, or administrator, you may have students reveal emotional upset associated with relationship problems, mood-related disorders, anxiety disorders, or suicidal thinking. At that time, you are in a position to make a referral. The following information may be useful as you make a referral of a student to the University Counseling Center. Responding to students in distress and making a referral offers suggests and tips to facilitate a successful and effective referral.

If the situation is life threatening (i.e., a verbal or written threat or an attempt to hurt them self or someone else was made), contact the University Counseling Center immediately at 717-477-1481 or the University Police at 717-477-1444.

If the situation is not life threatening, proceed in making your referral.

  • Meet in a confidential location.
  • Be calm, maintain appropriate eye contact and focus on what is said without making judgments.
  • Acknowledge the importance of the student's concerns. Emphasize that seeking help is not a weakness.
  • Tell the student of the free confidential counseling service on campus. Emphasize that counseling information is not part of the University's record.
  • Ask if you can call the University Counseling Center to schedule an appointment. If the student says yes then call and explain the situation to the Counseling Center secretary while the student is in your presence. The Counseling Center secretary will tell you what to do next.
  • If the student doesn't want you to make the call or a referral, respect that decision, but let the student know that you would be willing to talk again. Try to make the student aware of your willingness to assist in making the appointment.
  • Students can also make a counseling appointment on their own. You should give them the number of the University Counseling Center 717-477-1481 and encourage them to call if they change their mind.

Some Comments on Confidentiality

The counselors at the University Counseling Center are under ethical and legal obligations not to release confidential information. We cannot tell anyone that the student is receiving UCC services. Counselors strictly adhere to confidentiality laws for their profession and can only break confidentiality if the student gives direct written permission. One exception is in the case of danger to self or others involves breaking confidentiality of the student without permission so that the student or others are protected.

If a student tells us that you referred him/her and gives written permission, a counselor will call you to notify you that the student did attend the initial intake appointment. If you would like feedback, you can call us to tell us that you have made a referral and we will directly ask the referred student for permission to contact you. We cannot provide additional information other than the fact that the student did attend the first intake appointment. If you would like more information about a student's contact with the University Counseling Center, you can directly ask the student. The student can make decisions about how much she/he wants to reveal to others.

Contact the University Counseling Center Wellness Center, Naugle Hall - Ground Floor 1871 Old Main Drive Shippensburg, PA  17257 Phone: 717-477-1481 Fax: (717)-477-4041
Mon-Fri: 8:30am-5:00pm, For After-Hours Emergencies call Campus Police at 717-477-1444