Referring Others

For students, college is a time of transition. Students face challenges such as forming intimate relationships and establishing a career identity, as well as various situational difficulties, and often seek help for such concerns from others. Research has shown more severe mental health problems manifesting among students than in the past. Faculty and staff, especially when in mentorship roles, are often the people to whom students show a need for help to. Faculty and staff must be able to recognize signs of distress in students, know the parameters of their roles as mentors and effectively refer students to appropriate mental health resources when needed. Parents and friends can also detect signs of distress. Use the following information to assist in problem recognition and referral for help.

Characteristics of Troubled Students

Problem behaviors may manifest in the classroom, advising sessions, living areas or during informal interactions, among other circumstances. Faculty and staff who have regular contact with students in these ways can assist with early detection and referral. Parents may learn about some of these behaviors through phone calls and roommates and friends observe day-to-day signs of distress. It is important to recognize the following characteristics which may be indicative of mental health concerns:

  • 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
  • Depressed or apathetic mood, excessive activity or talkativeness, evidence of crying
  • Noticeable change in appearance and hygiene
  • Alcohol on the breath/problem drinking patterns
  • Inability to remain awake in class
  • Repeated attempts to obtain deadline extensions or postpone tests
  • Dependency
  • 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

Symptoms of Specific Psychological Problems

Comparing Counseling and Advising/Coaching

When and How to Refer

Confidentiality Statement

All client contacts and information obtained in the course of treatment is confidential. No information will be released without written authorization from the client, except in the rare cases of imminent danger or as required by law when there is a suspicion of child abuse, elder abuse or a court order.