Counseling Center Guide for Faculty & Staff

The college years can be stressful for students. Students may experience crises if their levels of stress exceed their coping resources. As a faculty or staff member, you can assist students by referring them to appropriate sources of help. The following information will provide you with some guidance in this process. We have developed additional tips and strategies for Working with College Students on the Autism Spectrum.

What to look for

Academic indicators

  • Deterioration in quality of work
  • A drop in grades
  • A negative change in classroom performance
  • Continual seeking of special accommodations (late papers, extensions, postponed exams, etc.)
  • Missed appointments
  • Repeated absences from class
  • Disorganized or erratic performance
  • Essays or creative work that indicate extremes of hopelessness, social isolation, rage or despair

Personal/Interpersonal Indicators

  • Tearfulness
  • Excessive dependency
  • Expressions of concern about a student in the class by his/her peers
  • Direct statements indicating distress, family problems, or other difficulties
  • Unprovoked anger or hostility
  • Expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • A hunch or gut-level reaction that something is wrong
  • Exaggerated personality traits (e.g., more withdrawn or more animated than usual)

Physical Indicators

  • Deterioration in physical appearance
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Coming to class bleary-eyed, hung over, or smelling of alcohol
  • Visible changes in weight
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Appearing sick or ill

Safety Risk Indicators

  • Any written note or verbal statement that has a sense of finality, excessive aggression, or suicidal tone
  • Severe depression
  • Giving away of prized possessions
  • Repeated mention of guns or other means of violence
  • Statements to the effect that the student is “going away for awhile”
  • Essays or papers that focus on despair, harm to others, suicide, or death
  • Self-injurious, self-destructive, or violent behaviors
  • A history of suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Any other behavior that seems out of control

What You Can Do

  • Call and consult a staff member at the Student Counseling Center at 503-352-2191, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Indicate that you are faculty/staff calling to discuss a student concern. Your call will be returned as soon as possible if a counselor is not immediately available.
  • Discuss your concerns directly with the student and listen for their responses. Talking about a concern does not make it worse. It may be the first step in addressing the student’s issues.
  • Encourage the student to make a counseling appointment at the Student Counseling Center.  While at peak times during the semester, there may be a 1-2 week wait for available appointments, the counseling staff will respond to emergencies on a same day basis as quickly as possible.
  • For urgent or emergency student mental health issues. If there is an immediate threat of harm to self or others, contact Campus Public Safety at 503-352-2230 or call 911. If there is no immediate threat of harm to self or others, you have two options.

    1. You may contact the SCC 24/7 Support & Crisis Line to reach trained professionals who can offer consultation about how best to support the student. They can also speak directly with the student if they are willing. 
    2. You may contact the Student Counseling Center office at 503-352-2191 during regular business hours for assistance and further directions. The first available counselor will speak with you.

Consider additional mental health emergency resources.

Issues to Consider

  • Avoid making promises of confidentiality. It may put the student or others at risk if you do, particularly if a student represents a safety risk to themselves.
  • You do not have to take on the role of a counselor. You need only notice, care, and refer. Avoid acting outside the scope of your relationship with the student.
  • Even if you feel comfortable discussing a problem with a student, it may be beneficial to consult with a staff member at the Student Counseling Center.
  • There are professional services on and off campus. None of us has to go it alone!