For Faculty and Staff
The Counseling Center is committed to providing the highest quality mental health care to FSU students. As part of that mission, the Center offers consultation to assist faculty and staff who may have concerns about a student. Examples of this type of consultation include:
- Providing information about campus and community-based mental health resources
- Talking with faculty and staff to assist students who are in crisis or are experiencing academic difficulty due to mental health issues
- Assisting Residence Life staff with training and crisis management
- Planning strategies with all constituents to mitigate a potential crisis
If you have a question or concern about a student, please contact the Counseling Center at 508-626-4640 and we will be happy to assist you.
As a faculty or staff member who may have regular contact with students, you are in a good position to recognize when a student is in distress. A student's behavior, especially if it is inconsistent with your previous observations, could be a sign that the student is struggling and needs help.
Signs suggesting a student may be in distress
- Not attending classes
- Increased dependence on a faculty/staff member
- Excessive procrastination
- Uncharacteristically poor or inconsistent school work
- Repeated requests to a professor for special consideration
- Worrisome or unusually personal content presented verbally or in written assignments
- Excessive worry or apathy about school work
- Feeling overwhelmed with academic demands
Behavioral (what you observe):
- Significant change in physical appearance (e.g., poor grooming or hygiene, excessive change in weight)
- Excessive energy (e.g., loud tone of voice, high level of activity, rapid speech)
- Inability to focus in a conversation or activity
- Thinking or speech that is disorganized, difficult to follow, or aggressive
- Strong mistrust of other people
- Violent or aggressive outbursts
- Irritable, sad, or depressed mood
- Reference to suicide or homicide (verbally or in written communication; direct or indirect)
- Threatening to others
- Inappropriate responses and/or display of intense emotion
- Slurred speech, unsteady gate, or other indications of substance use
What a student reports to you:
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- Increased fatigue
- Tearfulness, irritability, excessive sadness
- Isolating or increased anti-social behaviors
- Engaging in high risk behaviors (e.g., driving recklessly, engaging in risky sexual behavior, thrill seeking)
- Loss of interest in activities
- Difficulty concentrating or feeling motivated
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Inability to relax
- High anxiety or restlessness
- Excessive alcohol or drug use and/or an increase in substance use
- Suicidal or homicidal thinking or behavior
If you would like to discuss any concerns or questions that you have about a student, please contact the Counseling Center at 508- 626-4640, or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to assist you.
Referring a student for counseling can sometimes be or feel complex. You may be concerned about a student’s physical or mental health, worried about how a student is functioning, or noticed changes in classroom or social behavior. You might not be sure of how to approach a student or if you did, how to talk to him/her about getting help. The following suggestions may assist you in the referral process.
- Approach the student you are concerned about in a gentle, caring, and non-judgmental way. Tell the student that you want to check in.
- Specifically state why you are concerned and what you have observed. You might say, “I’ve noticed that you seem very distracted in class. How is everything going?”
- Ask the student about how s/he's has been functioning in day to day life (i.e. any problems with sleep, appetite, concentration).
- Listen carefully to the student’s responses. Repeat back main points to communicate that you understand. Clarify vague, confusing, or disturbing comments (e.g. “Can you tell me what you mean when you say you are 'done'?").
- Ask the student what kind of social support s/he has.
- Instill hope that things can get better and that help is available.
- Suggest counseling as a possible resource rather than something the student must do. Counseling can be framed as a way to better understand oneself or as a way of achieve personal growth.
- Respect your own limits and availability and trust your instincts regarding the need for additional help.
- Consult with colleagues, the Dean of Students (508-626-4596), Counseling Center staff, or others as needed.
- After you have talked with the student about counseling, you may call the Counseling Center with the student present and have them make an appointment. You may also walk the student to the Counseling Center to arrange an appointment.
If at any time you feel unsafe or feel the student is so distressed that they may be unsafe to themself or to others, contact Campus Police at Extension 4911 (508-626-4911).
Confidentiality Information for Faculty and Staff
Thank you for contacting us or referring students to us who are of concern to you. We are happy to consult with you related to any concerns you have about a student’s well-being. You may give us any information about the student that you feel would help us understand the current situation so that we can try to be as helpful as possible. Confidentiality dictates that we cannot share any information that we may have about the student, including if the student is known to us or in treatment with us. When you contact us, we will listen to you and work with you to come up with a plan that addresses your concerns about the student. We may make recommendations and or provide referral information for additional supports on or off campus.