Friends, parents, faculty and staff are often the first to notice students who are encountering difficulties coping with stress.
Signs and symptoms of stress in students:
- Social isolation, withdrawal, lethargy
- Inability to focus
- Disorganized thinking and speech
- Expressions of feelings of strong mistrust of others
- Violent outbursts
- Signs of excessive drug or alcohol use
- Expressions of general unhappiness over a period of several weeks
- Frequent absences
- Significant weight gain or loss
- Low self-esteem
- Poor hygiene
- Increase in dependency on others
- Marked anxiety or restlessness
- Sleep disturbance
- Loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities
- Physical complaints
- Unusual ritualistic, repetitive behavior
- Suicidal thoughts, plans or threats
- Injury to self through behaviors such as cutting
Guidelines for Responding
- Share your concern openly, directly and with care.
- Respect student's privacy but do not promise confidentiality.
- Demonstrate an understanding of what the student discloses.
- Clarify vague, confusing or disturbing disclosures. Ask, "What did you mean by...?"
- Consult with colleagues, deans, Counseling Center staff, or other community and/or campus resources.
- Follow-up with the student to make sure she sought appropriate help.
- Consider making a referral to the Counseling Center when:
- The problems or requests made are beyond your level of competence.
- There are personality differences which interfere with your ability to help a student.
- The boundaries of your role make it unwise to help the student with personal issues.
- The student expresses a preference to speak with someone else about the matter.
- If you are faculty or staff, consider letting the student call from your office to set up an appointment.
- After a referral, let the student volunteer what she wants to share. Communicate continued concern and openness to help.
- Once a referral has been made, communication between the student and the counselor is confidential. You may be curious and feel "unfinished" in your work with the student, but you may have to let it be that way as the student begins to work with someone else.
- Do not expect miracles, as change takes time.
- The Bay Path Counseling Center has clinical staff in the office Monday through Friday. When you call the office you will likely be prompted to leave a message. A clinician responds to messages several times a day. A student can generally get an appointment within a week of the initial call, often sooner. We make every effort to see students in acute distress as soon as possible.
- The Counseling Center staff is available to consult with you at any point in the referral process.
Faculty, please note, if you have situation in class that is not an emergency, please call the Director of Student Life at ext. 1467 or the V.P. for Student Development at ext. 1333