Concerned for a Student?
How Can You Help?
Be aware that there is no “perfect formula” for interacting with a distressed student. It is very important to know your personal limits as a helper. It is also important to be mindful that there are times when effectively listening, offering encouragement, and empathizing with the student can help the student feel cared about as an individual and more confident in his or her ability to make decisions during stressful times.
Here are some suggestions that might assist you when interacting with a distressed student:
- Approach the student respectfully and ask to speak in private when both of you have the time.
- Give the student your undivided attention.
- Listen to the student's thoughts and feelings in a sensitive, non-threatening way.
- If you have initiated contact with the student, express your concern in behavioral, non-judgmental terms (For example, “I've noticed you've been absent from class lately, and I'm concerned.”)
- Communicate that you understand the student by repeating back the essence of what the student has told you. Try to include both content and feelings (For example, “It sounds like you're not accustomed to such a big campus, and you're feeling left out of things.”)
- Behavior that is strange or inappropriate should not be ignored. Comment directly about what you have observed.
- Do not discuss your concerns with other students.
Circumstances that may indicate that a referral is necessary may include the following:
- The problem is more serious than you feel comfortable handling.
- You have helped as much as you can and further assistance is needed.
- You think your personal feelings about the student will interfere with your objectivity.
- The student admits that there is a problem but does not want to talk to you about it.
- The student asks for information or assistance that you are unable to provide.
When faculty or staff members decide to refer a student to Counseling Services, we recommend the following:
- Speak to the student in a direct, straightforward manner in which concern for the student's welfare is demonstrated.
- Be clear that this referral is based on observations of the student's behaviors.
- Students should make their own appointments, if possible. However, you can assist this process by offering the student immediate use of your campus phone to call Counseling Services at 614-287-2818 to schedule an appointment during regular business hours.
- If the Student is not willing to accept a referral to Counseling Services, you can call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and 614-287-2818 to discuss the situation.
- It is important to remember to take all suicidal/homicidal expressions seriously!! A CSCC counselor is available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. After-hours concerns should be directed to the Columbus State Police Department (614-287-2525) or 911.
Confidentiality of Services:
- Please remember that all Counseling Services contacts with students are confidential. Information about Counseling Services contacts with students cannot be released except under specific circumstances. Columbus State Counseling Services strictly adheres to this policy, which is in accordance with Ohio state law.
- If you are wondering about the student's follow-through with the referral, we recommend that you contact the student directly.
- You are welcome to share information regarding a student with our staff. However, Counseling Services staff must abide by the above guidelines and will not be able to provide information without the student's consent.
Resources for Parents
- Confidentiality — Counseling Services staff is ethically and legally bound to keep student information confidential. Please remember that we cannot acknowledge knowing a certain student or provide information about them without a specific release signed by the student. Yet we can still work with you to guide your process.
- College Parent Central has extensive information for parents on how to help your student: https://www.collegeparentcentral.com/2010/09/how-parents-can-help-their-student-in-trouble/