How to Identify Symptoms and Make a Referral
These symptoms are listed in an effort to aid faculty and staff in making a referral to Counseling or other agencies or helping professionals when necessary.
Identifying and Aiding a Person in Emotional Distress
As you know, all of us at one time or another have times that we are not ourselves and are stressed. However, there are signs and symptoms that go beyond the "normal" amount of stress of everyday life. This page has been created in an effort to help us all identify when a student is in need of assistance.
- Lack of energy or fatigue that has lasted more than two weeks
- Change in concentration in class, unable to pay attention
- Change in eating habits, eating more or less
- Changed pattern of interaction with classmates or instructor
- Change in amount of participation in class or isolation
- Change in attendance pattern
- Change in grades from good to poor
- Change in physical appearance, lack of personal attention to self
- Physical complaints that are not the result of injury
- Sudden panic attacks or increase in anxiety symptoms
- Student asks for more time to hand in assignments repeatedly and is hesitant about giving a reason why more time is needed
- Inappropriate disruptive behavior in class
- Extreme emotional reactions
- Open hostility to you or classmates
- Extremely disruptive behaviors which may be aggressive to the point of violence
- Slurred speech, garbled or unintelligible talk
- Unconnected thoughts or an inability to make sense to others when talking
- Not able to recognize time, location, people
- Expresses suicidal thoughts or actions
How to Act or What to do in the Above Situations
Stay calm and speak in a calm voice
For mild or moderate symptoms, during school hours:
call WSC Counseling at 701.774.4212
or call WSC Student Affairs at 701.774.4585
or call Campus Security at 701.570.6699
For severe symptoms, during school hours:
call WSC Counseling for consultation at 701.774.4212
or call WSC Student Affairs for consultation at 701.774.4585
or call Campus Security at 701.570.6699
or call 911 for transportation and protection services
What Can YOU do for Mild or Moderate Symptoms?
- Often just listening may help
- Listen in a non-judgmental manner--often this may be enough to help the student work through the problem and come up with a solution
- Express your concern regarding the student's well-being
- Avoid criticizing the student
- Explore what the student has done previously to solve similar situations and how it worked out
- Allow the student the opportunity to determine what they might do to solve the problem themselves in an appropriate manner
- Avoid becoming enmeshed (over involved) with the student and their problems
- Offer the number of WSC Counseling information | email@example.com or 701.774.4585
When to Refer
- When the problem is beyond your expertise
- When you are not comfortable
- When personality differences interfere with your ability to help
- When you know the student or their family personally and you would not be an objective person to help
- When the student is reluctant to talk to you even though they acknowledge they have a problem
- When you are stressed yourself, pressed for time or not feeling well
- When the student reminds you of someone you know who has a similar problem that hasn't been open to your suggestions
- The danger is immediate and there needs to be direct intervention because of danger to the student or someone else
How to Make a Referral
Some people will accept the suggestion of referral more readily than others. It is important to be sensitive to the type of student with whom you are dealing.
Being honest with them is almost always the very best procedure. Tell them that you are concerned about them and want them to get the best available help. If you are uncomfortable dealing with their personal issue, tell them. The student will be pleased that you were at least observant enough to notice they had not been behaving in the same manner recently.
Depending on the situation, have the student explore their options of people to talk with. There are many possibilities such as: a clergy person, a doctor, their parent, an old trusted friend, a grandparent, etc. You may also suggest someone on campus: the counselor, housing personnel, retention personnel, an academic advisors or campus security.
If the student agrees to be referred allow them to make the call from your office or classroom right then. It is very easy to "just let it go" if you have just told someone how you feel and they have listened. You can also complete the online Referral Form.
Releases of information forms are available in the Counseling Office if a student wishes to keep you apprised of how the meeting went. If you still have questions about referral, contact the Counseling Office. This page's concept was obtained from various sources from other schools on the web and some of the author's originality.