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How Do I Respond If I Notice Signs of Distress?
  • Talk to the student as soon as you notice changes or signs of distress, even though it may be more comfortable to ignore the behavior.
  • Try to have the conversation in private, when you have enough time to talk.
  • Try to approach the conversation in a relaxed, caring manner and indicate the specific behaviors that are causing you to worry.
  • Use “I” statements that focus on what you have noticed or what you are feeling, rather than saying, for example, “You’re doing” or “You’re not..."
  • Listen without interrupting. It will be easier for the student to hear what you have to say if you’re willing to listen in return.
  • Try to develop empathy for the student's situation. The student is trying to cope with her/his problems in the best way that she/he currently knows how.
  • Avoid being critical or judgmental, or reminding the student of how college is “supposed to be.”
  • Encourage positive action by collaborating with the student to define the problem and together, brainstorm possible ways of handling it; avoid the temptation to solve the problem for him or her.
  • Don’t expect instant results. You have accomplished something if you were able to tell the student how you feel.
  • Search the website and/or call support services at the school for additional advice and guidance (See below for resources.)

Know that many students are hesitant to seek counseling because of perceived stigma. (We have a video that addresses myths about counseling here. Let the student know that hundreds of students access our services in a given semester, and it is something they can try without any type of commitment needed. All of our services are confidential, with a few exceptions that a counselor will address in the very first session. Ultimately, the student has to make the appointment themselves, due to their legal status as an adult.

All staff and faculty are encouraged to refer to JCU’s “Responding to Students in Distress” handbook

Follow-up Procedure

We understand that you may be interested in the progress of the student you have referred. However, we are bound by the principles of confidentiality as defined by the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (American Psychological Association), the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice(American Counseling Association), and relevant laws.

The following examples clarify this principle:

We can:

  • Answer your questions concerning steps to take in assisting students in coming to the Counseling Center
  • Offer you information about psychological concerns and problems in general

We cannot:

  • Say whether a student is being seen here or has kept an appointment
  • Discuss the content of sessions
  • Discuss the treatment plan or progress

In some cases the student may find it in his/her best interest for information to be shared with a faculty, staff, family member, or significant other. This is done by the student’s own written authorization with clear explanation of the purpose and content of any disclosure. The only exception would be a clinician’s determination of imminent danger to the student or to others.