As a person who works with students on a daily basis, you have a unique opportunity to interact with students and observe their behaviors. Many students view faculty and staff members as role models for whom they have respect and admiration. Therefore, students may turn to you for advice and support when they are going though periods of stress and uncertainty.

Here are some tips to help you establish an appropriate supportive relationship with students who request your help:

  • Talk with the student. Show interest and concern.
  • Listen carefully to what the student is telling you.
  • Repeat back to the student the essence of what you heard to make certain that you understood.
  • Try not to come across as too judgmental or critical of the student's values.
  • Keep the relationship warm, but professional; do not become a surrogate parent or friend. Be careful not to swear secrecy about what the student is telling you.
  • Consider the Counseling Center as a consultation resource for you or a referral resource for the student. Validate and discuss any reservations the student may have about counseling.
  • Follow up with the student to ascertain how they are doing and whether they have followed through on recommendations. Following up is another way to show your continued concern.

Signs of Emotional Distress in Students
It is not uncommon for students to experience periods of depression or anxiety over the course of their college years. Some behaviors may be signs of more acute distress, however, and may warrant professional intervention. The following is a list of behaviors that many indicate the student needs help:
  • Disruptiveness in the classroom
  • Suicidal or homicidal ideation (either overt or veiled) expressed verbally or in written course work
  • Dramatic shifts in weight, personal hygiene, or appearance
  • Excessive dependence on adult role models, such as yourself, by hanging around after class or making frequent appointments to see you
  • Listlessness, falling asleep in class
  • Concerns expressed by other students
  • Incapacitating test anxiety
  • Alcohol on breath or signs of drug intoxication
  • Loss of contact with reality (inappropriate references, hallucinations, or bizarre behavior that is not based on fads)
  • Overly excitable or depressed mood states, possibly with fluctuations between the two extremes

How to Make a Referral to the Counseling Center
You may call the Counseling Center and discuss your concerns with a staff member. The Counseling Center offers same-day brief assessments to help students evaluate their needs and access the right services. Students do not require an appointment to be seen for a brief assessment. Students can also make an appointment for counseling by calling or coming by the Counseling Center.
UM Counseling Center records are confidential and the privacy of communication between clients and mental health professionals is protected by law. Information about a student or their treatment cannot be disclosed to others, including the individual who made the referral, without written consent from the student.

Counseling Center Services In case of after-hours psychological emergencies, a counselor from the Counseling Center can be reached through Public Safety at 305-284-6666.

For help in coping with sexual assaults, a Sexual Assault Resource Team advocate can be reached during the regular academic year at 305-798-6666.