When to Refer a Student to the UAM Counseling Center
Students often find comfort and assistance when talking with a UAM faculty or staff. Having a listening ear and providing support can be essential in helping a student. There are also times when it’s more appropriate to encourage a student to seek services from a licensed mental health professional. If you are unsure how to respond to a student, you can consult with the UAM Counselor by calling the office number: (870) 460-1554.
In general, it’s a good idea to refer a student to counseling when:
- The student is using an ineffective and potentially self-destructive coping strategy to manage with problems (i.e. excessive alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from others, suicidal thoughts)
- The problem the student is experiencing has been on-going for an extended period of time without relief and student’s attempts to resolve it have been unsuccessful
- Student appears stuck in an overwhelmed or panicked state.
- Support from yourself and/or others have not adequately alleviated the student’s problem.
Signs of Emotional Distress:
- Frequently missing class or arriving late
- Complaints of inability to concentrate or focus even with small tasks
- Difficulty retaining information or remembering material
- Apathy, chronic fatigue, consistently falling asleep in class
- Drastic changes in their moods, behaviors, personal appearances, and neglect to hygiene
- Dramatic shifts in quality of performance or academic tasks
- Social behavior changes that may include withdrawal, inability to sit still, emotional outbursts
- References to death, suicidal statements or allusions
- Reporting a recent life crisis, such as a death in the family, divorce or relationship changes, legal issues, job loss, or serious illness
- Somatic complaints (i.e. stomach aches, headaches, or frequent illnesses)
How to approach a student in distress:
- You may choose to approach the student rather than waiting for the student to ask for help themselves. If so, ask the student to wait after class to talk in private. You can also ask the student to drop by your office or make an appointment.
- Once in a private setting, express your concern with the student and share what you have observed in the student’s recent behavior.
- If the student discloses a problem, try to allow the student to discuss it openly. Your concern can be conveyed by listening in a calm, accepting, and non-judgmental manner. If you do not feel comfortable with the discussion, you can :
- Support the student and suggest they talk with a counselor. You can then give the student the counselor’s information (i.e. office location, office number, and email). Offer to walk them over to the Counseling Center.
- Sometimes a student will not want to discuss a problem. In this case, you can simply share your concern and inform the student about available counseling services in the UAM Counseling Center. Remember, you cannot help someone who is not ready to be helped.
How to refer a student to counseling:
- Remind the student that counseling services are at no costs to currently enrolled students.
- Reassure the student that recognizing a problem and reaching out for help are signs of maturity and strength, not weakness.
- Allow the student to use your phone to make the phone call with the counseling center and stay with the student during the initial contact; or, you may offer them the opportunity to make the call privately.
- Offer to walk the student over to the UAM Counseling Center.
- Communicate your positive feelings about the student’s decision to seek counseling.
If you are concerned about a student’s behavior or overall well-being, you may also put in a Person Of Concern Report.