Worried About a Student?

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In your unique position as a faculty/staff member, you may be the first to recognize when personal difficulties are affecting a student's academic performance or social relations. It is not, of course, the responsibility of any staff/faculty member to deal one-on-one with a student's emotional difficulties. Here we’ll share some information about resources on campus both for you and your students to help assist you in this process.

How to know when a student may benefit from getting help

If you notice that your student suddenly seems depressed, withdrawn, or demonstrates low motivation for academic tasks, is not attending class or failing to complete assignments, falls asleep or smells like alcohol while in class, appears distracted or withdrawn, displays a loss of interest in caring for personal appearance or hygiene, is consistently experiencing high levels of stress, shows interpersonal difficulties, or references suicide verbally or in writing, your student may benefit from talking to someone.

How to respond to students who disclose personal concerns to me

When a student chooses to share personal concerns with you, it is important to listen attentively and fully, and try to understand what the student is saying. It may be helpful to respond with empathy and support that feels appropriate to you, keeping in mind your own professional and personal limits. Suggesting, in a nonjudgmental way, that a student discuss concerns with a counselor may convey a sense of compassion and care. Remember that except in cases where you may reasonably suspect that there is a potential for self-harm or danger to others, a student has the right to refuse treatment. However, an offer to help consult with UCPS may demonstrate continued care for the student’s well-being.  It can always be helpful to check back in at a later time, to see if your student is doing better.

If a student comes to you for help, you may feel more comfortable referring the student to us, especially if you feel your particular relationship with the student may interfere with your helping the student, their concern is personal in nature, the student is reluctant to speak to you, your helping thus far has not seemed to be effective, or you feel that the information requested falls outside of your range of knowledge.

If a student expresses suicidal thoughts, homicidal thoughts, severe loss of emotional control, gross impairment in thinking ability, or a loss of connection with reality, you would do best to call someone in the Dean of Students office (610 758 4156), or the LU Police (84200) to get help immediately. Of course you are always welcome to call UCPS for consultation.

How to refer a student to UCPS

When you have determined that a student might benefit from counseling services, it is usually best to speak directly to the student in a straightforward fashion that will show your concern for his or her welfare. Be specific regarding the behaviors that have raised your concerns, and avoid making generalizations about the individual. Be aware that some students may reject your efforts, may deny any troubles, and/or may feel intruded upon. Generally speaking, most students will feel appreciative of your interest and concern and your contact with them might be an important step toward their dealing with their problems. If you have questions or concerns about approaching a particular student, feel free to call UCPS for help. Except in emergencies, the option must be left open for the student to accept or refuse counseling. If the student agrees to the referral, the student may call (610 758 3880) or email (incso@lehigh.edu) the UCPS to make an appointment.

Confidentiality

Because communication between a therapist and a client is confidential, we cannot discuss a client's situation, or reveal that counseling is being received, without the client's written consent. These limits of confidentiality do not apply in situations where a student poses an imminent risk to self or others. If you wish follow-up information on someone you have referred, please ask that individual to provide us with permission to speak with you. If you do not hear from us, it is likely that permission has been denied.

Consultation

Consultation services are a regular part of our responsibility to the college community relative to concerns individuals might have about a student. Our staff can make recommendations as to how to speak with the student, and how to refer to the Counseling Center. In most situations, UCPS staff act as a consultant to the person calling, helping that person to respond more effectively to the student of concern. We are also available for in-service workshops, and presentations, and provide programming on a variety of topics to staff/faculty groups.

flyer including tips to identify students in distress

For a written version of the above flyer, click here.