Referral Guidelines for Faculty & Staff
Referral Guidelines for Faculty and Staff
Mental health is clearly linked to retention and academic performance (Backels & Wheeler, 2001). Currently, professors and academic advisors are finding that mental health issues are interfering with student academic success more than ever and students with depression are twice as likely to drop out of college. A national trend shows that there is a rise in mental health issues; college students are exhibiting more severe mental health issues than in past years.
Professors and staff play a very important role in the lives of our students here at OCU. Often times a student just needs someone to listen to them and provide them emotional support. However, when a student expresses distress, it is more appropriate to encourage them to seek out counseling for mental health issues. If you are unsure how to respond to a student, please feel free to contact University Counseling for assistance.
In general it is a good idea to refer a student to counseling when:
- The student is utilizing an ineffective coping strategy to cope with his/her problems i.e.: drug/alcohol abuse, suicidal thoughts, withdrawing from others.
- The student appears to be stuck in an overwhelming or panicked state of mind.
- The problem that the student is experiencing has been going on for an extended period of time with no relief.
- Support from you or others have not been adequate to alleviate the student's problem.
Signs of Emotional Distress:
- Frequently missing class or consistently arriving late
- Complaints of inability to concentrate or focus even with small tasks
- Difficulty retaining information
- Apathy, chronic fatigue, consistently falling asleep in class
- Drastic changes in their moods, behaviors, and personal appearances
- Dramatic shifts in their academic tasks or quality of performance
- Withdrawn, inability to sit still, emotional outbursts
- References to death, suicidal statements or allusions
- Reporting a recent life crisis such as a death in the family, divorce, recent break up, legal problem, etc
- Somatic complaints such as stomach aches, headaches, or frequent illnesses
How to approach a student in distress:
- Ask the student to wait after class to talk with him or her in private. Or ask him or her to make an appointment to see you in your office.
- Once you are in a private setting express your concern to the student and tell them what you have observed in their recent behavior.
- Listen to the student in a calm and receptive manner that shows acceptance and is free from judgment.
- If a student discloses a problem, support them and suggest that they talk with a counselor. Give the student the counselor's information such as where the office is, the phone number, and email. Offer to walk them over to the counseling clinic. Contact Information for University Counseling
How to refer a student to counseling:
- Counseling services are free of charge and available to all actively enrolled students. Appointments can be made by contacting University Counseling.
- Please remind the student that the information is kept confidential and will not be in their academic records.
- Reassure the student that reaching out for help is a sign of maturity, not weakness.
- Offer to walk the student over to the counseling center.
- Communicate your positive feelings about the student's decision to seek out counseling.
- Allow the student to use your phone to make the phone call and stay with the student while they make the initial contact. Or you may give them the opportunity to make the phone call in private.
If you are concerned about a student’s behavior or overall well-being, you may also put in a report to the BIT team.