Assisting Students in Distress
The information below is designed to give you information that you might find helpful when confronted with a difficult student situation. You may have concerns about a students behavior or see signs of psychological distress that could affect the student’s academic and personal success. This folder provides information that can assist you in early detection and effective referral. Contact information is provided along with relevant resources. Please don’t hesitate to contact obtain assistance and support.
Full PDF: Assisting Students in Distress
- Public Safety (emergencies)/ (Tressa Setlak): 4911 or 240-895-4911
- Academic Services/ADA Coordinator (Don Stabile/Deirdre Bulger): 4388 or 240-895-4388
- Counseling & Psychological Serv ices (Kyle Bishop): 4289 or 240-895-4289
- Health Services (Lee Skutka): 4289 or 240-895-4289
- International Education: 4202 or 240-895-4202
- On-Call Professional (A Student Affairs professional staff member is on-call after normal work hours): 4911 or 240-895-4911
- Residence Life (Derek Young): 4207 or 240-895-4207
- Students of Concern Team (Joanne Goldwater): 4270 or 240-895-4270
- VP of Student Affairs/Dean of Students (Leonard Brown): 4208 or 240-895-4208
- Ambulance/Fire/Police: 911
- Walden Sierra 24/7 Hotline: 301-863-6661
Important Campus Phone Numbers:
Important Off-Campus Phone Numbers
CHARACTERISTICS OF TROUBLED OR DISTRESSED STUDENTS
Where you may see them:
- In the classroom
- In advising sessions
- In living areas
- During informal interactions
- In assignments that students submit
- Extremely poor academic performance or a change from high to low grades.
- Excessive absences, especially if prior class attendance was good.
- Unusual or noticeably changed interaction patterns in the classroom or
- Depressed or apathetic mood, excessive activity or talkativeness, evidence
- Noticeable change in appearance and hygiene.
- Alcohol on breath/problem drinking patterns.
- Inability to stay awake in class.
- Repeated attempts to obtain deadline extensions or postpone tests.
- New or continuous behavior which disrupts your class or student interactions.
- Inappropriate or exaggerated emotional reactions to situations, including a
lack of emotional response to stressful events.
- Seeking help from multiple other parties instead of counseling professionals.
- Violent or other extremely disruptive behavior.
- Obvious loss of contact with reality.
- Disturbed speech or communication content.
- Suicidal or other self-destructive thoughts or actions.
- Homicidal threats
What they look like:
HOW TO INTERVENE
Whenever any of the signs of distress are present and a student is not functioning at an optimum level, a referral to the Wellness Center could be warranted. Faculty and Staff will hear from students about their personal difficulties. Often an empathic listener or a trusted mentor can provide the support, guidance, or perspective to sufficiently help a student through a difficult situation or time in their life. There are times, however, when the help of professionals trained to deal with psychological issues and problems are warranted and when your involvement with the student should be more delicate.
- A student asks for help with a problem outside your realm of expertise.
- You believe the student has crossed a line in communicating about things that
are too personal.
- The student feels uncomfortable talking to you about the problems.
- What you have done so far has not sufficiently helped reduce the problem.
- The student’s behavior is disrupting others.
- Helping the student could represent a conflict of interest or dual relationship
and compromise your objectivity.
- You are having a strong emotional reaction to the student’s situation, e.g.
feeling overwhelmed, overly responsible, afraid, or tired.
- You are extremely busy or stressed, or unwilling or unable to offer the necessary.
- Talk to the student in private.
- Express concern, while being specific about troubling behaviors.
- Listen empathically.
- Remain neutral.
- Suggest to the student that it would be helpful to talk to someone at the
Wellness Center who is trained to address the concerns. Have the student call
to schedule an appointment from your office, if willing to do so.
- Demystify and de-stigmatize counseling as necessary.
- Call a counselor yourself to consult about the student.
- Obtain emergency help through Public Safety if necessary.
- Follow up with the student to find out if the appointment was kept. Do not
inquire about the details of the session; rather, show interest in knowing that
the student is getting needed help and support.
- Submit a Beacon alert or notify a member of the Students of Concern Team
regarding any students about whom you are concerned.
When to Refer:
How to Refer:
OTHER REPORTING MANDATES
The policy on reporting child abuse and neglect can be found at: Child Abuse Policy
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects
- To school officials with legitimate educational interest, i.e. a need to know.
- Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies.
the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that
receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
It is a misperception that faculty and staff cannot communicate with others about
students of concern.
Under FERPA, you may disclose records without consent:
Student behaviors that you observe that may be disruptive or concerning, are not
part of an educational records, and therefore are not governed by FERPA. You can
and should communicate with appropriate professionals and enlist the help of
resources regarding the student of concern. Sensitivity for privacy and relevance
of the information shared when doing so is also good practice.
STUDENTS OF CONCERN TEAM
The mission of the Students of Concern (SOC) Team is to informally share
information regarding student behavior, issues, and concerns occurring in and
out of the classroom in order to provide support services and to try to ensure the
welfare of the student and the community. The team meets weekly and consists
of representatives from Academic Services, Athletics & Recreation, Counseling
& Psychological Services (consultant), Residence Life, Title IX, with the Associate
Dean for Retention and Student Success as chair. The team will utilize the Beacon
system as an academic early warning system. Other potential examples of SOC
discussion items include: death in the family, financial difficulties, acting out
behaviors, issues with self-image, family issues, students who may need some
type of intervention or evaluation, etc.
Faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to use the Beacon system to share
information about a student with the student’s success team.
Acknowledgment: This folder has been adapted from Salisbury University.
TITLE IX INFORMATION
Except for individuals who have legally protected confidentially, all
- Contact Title IX Coordinator Michael Dunn: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 240-895-4105, Glendening Room 254, www.smcm.edu/campus-rights
- Contact Public Safety: 240-895-4911, www.smcm.edu/publicsafety
- That you are obligated to report the facts of the incident, including the identities of the parties, to the Title IX Coordinator or other appropriate College officials.
- That the person may request that the College not share their name or other identifiable information or that no formal action be taken. The Title IX Coordinator will evaluate these requests.
- That there are confidential resources available.
- That the person has the right to file a Title IX complaint with the College and to report a crime to law enforcement.
- Even if the person wishes to remain anonymous, you are still required to make a report if any information has been revealed to indicate that the College’s policy against sexual misconduct may have been violated.
“responsible employees” of the College
including faculty, coaches, administrators, and Public Safety employees — are required to share with the Title IX Coordinator any report of sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking, or relationship violence they receive or of which they become aware.
How to file a report:
When talking with someone who experienced sexual misconduct, listen to them; don’t be judgmental; let the person make their own decisions; respect their privacy to the extent possible; encourage the person to get help; and be present in the conversation.
When you make a report, please do your best to make sure the person
understands the following:
For more information go to www.smcm.edu/campus-rights .
WARNING SIGNS FOR SUICIDE
Some behaviors may indicate that a person is at immediate risk for suicide.
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
- Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or obtaining a
gun or other deadly weapon.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawing or feeing isolated.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
The following three should prompt you to immediately call the Wellness
Center (4289 or 240-895-4289), another mental health professional, or the
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Other behaviors may also indicate a serious risk, especially if the behavior is
new; has increased; and/or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change: