Show You Care
It's often reassuring to students to hear that you respect their willingness to talk and that you want to support them in getting the assistance they need.
An individual who is distressed often wants help but doesn't know how to ask. You can play an essential role by expressing your concern in a caring, nonjudgmental way.
- Take the person aside and talk to him/her in private. Try to give the other person your undivided attention. Just a few minutes of listening might enable him or her to make a decision about what to do. Listen carefully and with sensitivity.
- Listen in an open minded and nonjudgmental way.
- Be honest and direct, but nonjudgmental. Share what you have observed and why it concerns you. For example: "I've noticed that you've been missing class a lot lately and you aren't answering your phone or text messages like you used to. I'm worried about you."
It's usually best to be frank with students about the limits of your availability to assist them - limits of time, energy, training, and objectivity.
Let the student know why you are concerned about them in terms of the student's own worries or needs.
"I often hear you mention your worries about X, and I think that's something you are right to be concerned about."
"It seems from our recent conversations that this is something you really need to talk about."
"When you mention that you are thinking of suicide, I know it concerns you and it concerns me, too."
Let the student know what they will gain from meeting with a counselor.
"I think you will find it very helpful to discuss all this with someone impartial, someone who can help you sort out your thoughts and feelings."
"This is just the thing to consult with a counselor about - a counselor will know more about this than either one of us."
Avoid labeling the student or their behavior. Labeling, whether accurate or inaccurate, can frighten or discourage a student from getting help. And remember that different parents and cultures have different ways of expressing their distress; what looks strange to you may be "normal" for the other person.
Don't say "You're depressed," or "You have an eating disorder," or "You should be in therapy."
Reassure the student that making a referral isn't a rejection.
"Even though you will be talking with your counselor about this, feel free to keep in touch."
"Come back and let me know how your meeting with the counselor goes - I don't want to know the details, but I'd like to know that you've found someone helpful to speak with."
There are a number of ways you can help a student and show them that you care.
Not Urgent: Make a Referral to the University Counseling Center (UCC)
Some people accept a referral for professional help more easily than others. When proposing a referral, it is best to suggest a referral in a direct and positive manner.
If the student agrees to be referred, you can assist them in scheduling the appointment while with you in your office/room. The student should make the appointment if possible and walk-in appointments are welcome.
If the student is reluctant to talk to anyone, you can call the University Counseling Center about appropriate actions. You can also suggest that the student take a free and confidential mental health assessment online.
Crisis Situation: Get 24/7 Support from UND
The Care Team responds 24/7 to incidents such as major accidents, missing students, sickness that interferes with attending classes, death, suicidal ideations, situations involving self-harm, psychological trauma and sexual violence.
The UCC provides information, support, referrals, and, if needed, will transfer your call to the UCC professional staff member on call that can provide emergency consultation. Call FIRSTLINK at 701.777.2127 and press "1".
Emergency: Call University Police
If the student's behavior leaves you feeling frightened and in fear for your personal safety or the safety of others, please contact University Police Department at 701.777.3491. While it can be scary to contact University Police Department in this kind of situation, it is the best call you can make for the safety and security of all involved.
In addition to identifying and responding to student behavior or indicators of possible emotional distress, please remember FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) allows for the disclosure of observable behavior. We always encourage faculty and staff to contact the University Counseling Center or the Office of Community Standards to report concerning behavior.
Faculty and staff members who wish to learn more about recognizing signs of student distress are encouraged to contact the staff at the University Counseling Center.