Students will often seek out a staff or faculty member that they know for help. They may approach you because they see you as someone they can trust and someone who cares about their well-being. You are in an excellent position to recognize students in distress and guide them toward avenues of help when needed.
How do I identify a student in distress?
Be alert to changes in behavior, attitude or performance. These changes can be quick and dramatic or be a slow decline. They may include:
- Excessive absences from class
- Asking for help with personal problems / Frequent requests for your time
- Decline in academic performance
- Failure to follow through on appointments or deadlines with you
- Changes in class participation or with peers
- Disorganized thinking or speech / Lack of focus / Rapid speech
- Dramatic changes in weight or physical appearance (including personal hygiene)
- Mood swings
- Depressed or anxious mood
- Crying / Sadness
- Multiple physical complaints
- Evidence of serious loss (death, divorce)
- Overt or covert references to suicide
- Threatening statements (verbal or written)
- Preoccupation with death themes or violence
- Indication of drug or excessive alcohol use
- Severe isolation from family or friends
- Perception of having no support network
- Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, despair
What should I do if one of my students is struggling?
- Talk with the student privately, with compassion and without judgement.
- Communicate your concerns, focusing on specific behavior.
- Listen to them attentively, without promising confidentiality.
- Invite the student to talk with someone at The Well. When making a referral, point out it demonstrates strength to seek help, and not weakness.
- Inform them of the confidentiality nature of counseling.
- Encourage them to make a call while they are still with you.
How do I refer someone to The Well?
You can provide the student with our phone number (616.977.5477), email address (thewell.cornerstone.edu) or direct them to our office (in Miller Hall, entrance facing the faculty office building).
Can I receive information on a student I’ve referred?
Confidentiality is valuable and necessary to every counseling relationship. Because of this, as well as ethical and legal obligations, we cannot confirm any contact or share any information on your student. If a student informs us they have been referred by you and would like you to know they attended their initial appointment, they can sign a release of information for us to share that with you. If you want to confirm their attendance, but we do not have a release, we will ask the student to provide that information to you.
May I consult with a counselor at The Well about a student concern?
Yes. Please feel free to call (616.977.5477) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) The Well for an appointment with a counselor. A conversation with a counselor may assist you in clarifying the need to intervene or providing referral options.
The Well cannot legally or ethically share information with you about specific students, but we are able to receive information from you and offer general advice.