Faculty and Staff as Helping Resources for Students
Faculty and staff who are concerned about a student’s mental health are encouraged to contact the Counseling Center at 512-245-2208 for consultation on how to support the student.
Signs that a Student is in Distress
The following may help identify students in distress. It is important to note that any single symptom by itself may not indicate the presence of unmanageable stress. However, if a student appears to have several symptoms or you notice a change in the following areas it is appropriate to recommend they contact the Counseling Center at 512-245-2208 for an initial consultation or to call the 24/7 Crisis Hotline after business hours: 1-877-466-0600 (Students need to inform Crisis Hotline they are Texas State Students)
- Poor performance and preparation
- Excessive absences or tardiness
- Repeated requests for special consideration especially when this represents a change from previous functioning
- Unusual or changed pattern of interaction
- Avoiding participation
- Dominating discussions
- Excessively anxious when called upon
- Attention/memory difficulties
- Disruptive behavior
- Exaggerated emotional response obviously inappropriate to the situation
- Depressed or lethargic mood
- Hyperactivity or very rapid speech
- Change in personal hygiene or dress
- Dramatic weight loss or gain
- Strange or bizarre behavior indicating loss of contact with reality
- Abrupt or radical changes in behavior
- Overuse or regular use of illicit drugs, alcohol, and/or medication
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
- Overt references to suicide
- Isolation from friends or family
- Homicidal threats
What You Can Do to Help
Even though you may be genuinely concerned about students and interested in helping them, you may find yourself in situations where it would be better to refer the student to other resources. A referral is usually indicated in the following situations:
- You feel the problem is too serious for you to address with the student and/or you do not feel comfortable doing so.
- You have talked to the student and helped as much as you can, but further assistance is needed.
- The student admits that there is a problem but doesn’t want to talk to you about it.
- The student asks for information or assistance which you are unable to provide.
If you have questions about a student’s behavior or the appropriateness of a referral for counseling, you may call the Counseling Center (512-245-2208) and ask to speak to a counselor about ways to proceed with the student.
How to Talk to Students about Going to the Counseling Center
Tips for having a discussion with a student in distress:
- Suggest counseling in a concerned and caring way.
- Be specific about the behaviors that raised your concerns.
- Reassure them that counselors work with people who have a wide range of concerns (e.g., relationship problems, depression, stress, etc.) and that seeking help is a sign of strength and courage rather than a sign of weakness or failure.
- It may also help them to know that they do not have to be able to pinpoint what is wrong before they seek assistance.
Except in emergencies, the option must be left open for the student to accept or refuse counseling. Give the student an opportunity to consider other alternatives by suggesting that he or she might need some time to think it over. If the student still refuses to seek counseling, then respect that decision, and leave the door open for reconsideration at a later time.
Finally, after you have referred the student, follow up with him/her to show your continued support. All contacts/visits with the Counseling Center are confidential; therefore, information regarding a student cannot be released to you without a student’s written permission.
Crisis or Emergency Situations
In the case of a medical or mental health, life threatening emergency, call 911 for immediate assistance
For concerns that a student may be considering suicide, may be at acute risk of violent behavior, shows severe loss of emotional control or gross impairment in thinking ability call the Counseling Center at 512-245-2208 during business hours. On-Call counselors are available on weekdays 8 am to 5 pm and can respond to students in crisis and consult with faculty and staff. After 5 p.m. or on weekends, please contact the University Police Department by dialing 911 from any campus phone.