As a faculty or staff member interacting daily with students, you are in an excellent position to recognize struggling or distressed students. In fact, you may be the first person a student reaches out to for help. Your ability to recognize the signs of emotional distress and to make an initial intervention can have a significant impact on the student's well-being. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions.
While there is no simple method of identifying students in need of help, there are some signs to watch for as you interact with your students:
If you notice signs of distress, here are some suggestions for ways to respond:
When the problems and requests of a student are beyond your level of competence or are not appropriate to be addressed within the context of a student-professor relationship, it is advisable to refer the student for counseling. Other reasons for referral would be personality differences interfering with your ability to work with the student or a student's expressed preference to speak with someone else. If you have reason to be concerned about the student's safety or the safety of others, contact the Broene Counseling Center (616-526-6123) or Campus Safety (616-526-3333).
To make a referral, provide the student with our phone number (616-526-6123) or e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also direct them to our office on the third floor of the Spoelhof College Center, right next to the Residence Life office.
Confidentiality is a valuable and necessary part of the therapeutic relationship. Because of this, we will be unable to confirm that we have had any contact with your student unless we have their written permission to communicate with you. However, rest assured that we value your involvement with the student and will take any information from you very seriously. If you would like to find out how things are going with the student, it is best to do this by making a follow-up contact with them directly.
Yes. Please feel free to call the front desk and ask for an available counselor. Although Broene counselors cannot legally and ethically share information with you about specific students, we are able to receive information from you and offer general advice.