The following is a set of guidelines intended to be useful to staff and faculty in making appropriate referrals to the Counseling and Testing Center. The guidelines address situations that represent a need for immediate action followed by those situations that do not represent an immediate emergency.
The Counseling and Testing Center is open for emergencies and routine assessments from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday, Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.
If you have a student in crisis during the Counseling and Testing Center's emergency on-call hours, please follow the procedures listed below. Counseling services are free of charge and confidential following the laws of the State of Georgia.
In an emergency situation, it is important to assess the nature of the emergency in order to determine what constitutes an appropriate source of help, given the circumstances.
Off-Hours Emergencies – 24 Hour Crisis Line:
If you need help with a student in crisis during the Counseling and Testing Center's off- hours, please call 800-715-4225.
Faculty as Helping Resources for Students
University students typically encounter a great deal of stress (i.e. academic, social, family, work, financial) during the course of their educational experience. While most students cope successfully with the demands of college life, for some the pressures can become overwhelming and unmanageable. Students in difficulty have a number of resources available to them. These include close friends, relatives, clergy, and coaches. In fact, anyone who is seen as caring and trustworthy may be a potential resource in time of trouble.
We believe there is a powerful rationale for faculty members to intervene when they encounter distressed students: the inability to cope effectively with emotional stress poses a serious threat to students’ learning ability. As a faculty member, your expression of interest and concern may be a critical factor in helping a struggling student reestablish the emotional equilibrium necessary for academic survival and success.
Your willingness to respond to students in distress will undoubtedly be influenced by your personal style and your particular philosophy about the limits of a professor’s responsibility for helping students grow, emotionally as well as intellectually. Obviously, a student’ s openness to assistance and such situational factors as class size, length and depth of your relationship, and the location of the contact, may have a substantial effect on the type of interactions you can have with a student.
We hope this page will not only help you assess what can sometimes be difficult situations, but also give you some specific ideas about what you can do when confronted with a student who is in distress.
Recognizing Troubled Students
At one time or another, everyone feels depressed or upset. But we can identify three general levels of student distress which, when present over a period of time, suggest that the problems the person is dealing with are more than the “normal ” ones.
Level 1: These behaviors, although not disruptive to others in your class, may indicate that something is wrong and that help may be needed:
Level 2: These behaviors may indicate significant emotional distress, but also a reluctance or inability to acknowledge a need for more personal help:
Level 3: These behaviors obviously indicate severe emotional distress and indicate a need for emergency intervention:
What can you do?
Level 3 problems are the easiest to identify. If you encounter a crisis situation, you should call the GSU Police at 404-413-3333. You may also call the Counseling and Testing Center at 404-413-1640 for a consultation with the crisis counselor.
In dealing with a student who shows Level 1 or Level 2 behavior, you have several choices. You can choose to not deal with it at all, deal directly with the request or disruptive behavior in a way that limits your interaction to the classroom issue, or you can deal with the situation on a more personal level.
If you choose to approach a student you’re concerned about or if a student seeks you out for help with personal problems, here are some suggestions which might make the opportunity more comfortable for you and helpful for the student:
When should you make a referral?
Even though a student asks for help with a problem and you are willing to help, there are circumstances which may indicate that you should suggest that the student use another resource. For example: the problem or request for information is one you know you can’t handle, you believe that personality differences will interfere with your ability to help, you know the student personally (as a friend, neighbor, friend of a friend) and think you could not be objective enough to really help, the student acknowledges the problem but is reluctant to discuss it with you, after working with a student for some time you find that little progress has been made and you don’t know how to proceed, you are feeling overwhelmed, pressed for time, or otherwise at a high level of stress yourself.
Make a referral
Some people accept a referral for professional help more easily than others. It is usually best to be frank with a student about the limits of your ability to assist them—limits of time, energy, training, and objectivity. It is often reassuring to a student to hear that you respect their willingness to talk to you and that you want to support them in getting the assistance they need. Confused students may be comforted to know that they don’t necessarily have to know what’s wrong before they ask for help.
Assure them that seeking help doesn’t necessarily mean that they have serious problems. It is possible that their concern is one of the common reasons that college students seek the help of another person. You may share with them the handout "Counseling and You: What's it All About".
If an assessment session from Counseling and Testing Center Staff is warranted, you can either come with the student or ask the student to come to the reception area to complete the computerized paperwork before seeing a counselor. The student can either see the crisis counselor that day or obtain a scheduled appointment for a half hour meeting. The screening counselor will get to know the student and recommend services at the Counseling and Testing Center or other appropriate agencies. A crisis counselor is available from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday and and 9 a.m. -8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday when school is in session for seeing students and providing consultation with faculty. If you have concerns during non-business hours, you may contact the GSU Police Department at 404-413-1640 and if they decide that we should be involved, they will contact Counseling and Testing Center staff.
|Student Need:||Source of Help:|
|Career or major choice||University Career Services
|Interpersonal concerns||Counseling and Testing Center
|Other personal concerns||Counseling and Testing Center
|Testing concerns||Testing Office
|Stress management||Mind-Body program
|Sexual or discriminatory harassment concerns||Student/Staff Ombudsperson