Faculty And Staff Resources
Helping Students In Need
College students today often experience considerable personal and school-related stress. In addition to the pressure to achieve and work out a path to professional success, students must cope with a variety of personal stressors and pressures. Common stressors include:
- Isolation and loneliness
- Break-up of significant relationship
- Perceived rejection by family
- Substance abusing parents and/or family
- Misuse of alcohol and/or drugs
- Sexual identity issues
- Low motivation or inability to establish goals
- Death of a loved one
- Serious illness
- Academic pressure or failure
- Cultural discrimination
Sometimes just one situation or stressor can precipitate a crisis.
Recognizing A Troubled Student
Everyone feels overwhelmed, anxious or stressed from time to time. However, some behaviors that continue to occur over a period of time suggest that intervention may be needed. The following behaviors may signal a need for help.
- Marked changes in academic performance
- Poor preparation or excessive procrastination
- Chronic absences and/or tardiness
- Unusual or changed patterns of interactions in class e.g. avoiding participation, dominating discussions, excessively anxious when called upon, or disruptive behavior
- Repeated requests for special consideration or out-of-class time
- Disturbing material in academic assignments
- Coming to class intoxicated or high
Changes in Personal Appearance/Behavior
- Changes in personal hygiene or appearance
- Lack of energy or falling asleep in class
- High level of irritability or aggressive behavior
- Significant weight changes — gain or loss
- Bizarre or dangerous behaviors
- Unusual or exaggerated emotional response
- Inability to concentrate
What You Can Do
In any of these situations your calmness, willingness to help and knowledge of whom to call is important. You may choose to approach the student or the student may approach you.
- Be simple, direct and firm
- Talk with the student in a caring way and specifically state why you are concerned
- Demonstrate respect for the student by talking when both of you have sufficient time and are in a private place free from disturbance by others
- Be matter-of-fact — controlling your emotions may help the student to do the same
- Give the student your undivided attention
- Express concern for the student in clear, direct behavioral terms, using “I” statements and personal observations “I’ve noticed you’ve been missing a lot of class lately. How are things going?” would be better than “Why haven’t you been in class? What’s wrong?”
- Listen in a respectful, non-threatening and non-judgmental way
- Let the student talk. Be an active listener
In your syllabus, you may include CAPS as a resource by adding this statement:
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) are free and confidential for enrolled students. For more information, contact CAPS at 402.554.2409, H&K 102, Monday – Friday, 8a.m. - 5p.m. Please also visit our website: https://caps.unomaha.edu to learn more.
Referring to CAPS
Do not attempt to make a referral when the student is too upset or confused to understand or listen. Wait until the student has calmed down enough to be able to converse and respond to your suggestions.
Some students may feel that their problems aren’t serious enough or are too serious to be solved. Others may be ambivalent about seeking help from a counselor, be fearful of the unknown, or be unsure about what going to counseling means.
Acknowledge that this can be a scary step to take. Please assure the student that the counselors have dealt with many types of issues and will work with them in exploring options.
Be sure to discuss the confidentiality of the the CAPS staff.
When referring, you may:
- Suggest the student use your phone to arrange an appointment while you are still with the student. When the call is made from your office, you know that at least an appointment has been made. By making the call, students are demonstrating personal responsibility and are more likely to follow through to get help. Your willingness to let them handle this part of the process affirms their positive coping capabilities.
- Call CAPS yourself, while the student is still in your office, and arrange an appointment for the student. If you think this is an emergency situation, please indicate this when you contact the CAPS staff. With the student’s permission, you may provide the staff member with information about the nature of the problem and the reason for your referral.
- In an immediate emergency, you may decide to walk the student over to the CAPS office (102 H&K) in person so that s/he may be seen immediately by the counselor who is available to handle emergencies. If possible, a call indicating that you are bringing a student would be helpful.
- In an emergency, do not hesitate to contact Public Safety at 402.554.2648 or 402.554.2911
When in Doubt, Consult.
Call CAPS at 402.554.2409 and ask to speak with a counselor. Please let them know you are concerned about a student and they can help you assess the seriousness of the situation, learn about resources and referral options, and help you consider how you can best help the student.