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For Faculty and Staff

Consultation Services for Concerns with Students

As a faculty or staff person, you will often be one of the first individuals to learn that a student is having personal problems that are interfering with their academic success or daily lives. The student may share their personal concerns with you during an academic advising appointment, during office hours, through email, etc. Also, you may become concerned about something a student has written in a paper or on an exam.

In these situations, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is available for assistance in a number of ways. If you would like to consult with one of our professional staff to help you figure out what steps might be taken to help a student of concern, do not hesitate to call 797-1012 and set up a time to speak with a Staff Psychologist. Our expert staff is available for consultation during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You may also send us an email and we will gladly get back to you.

Other Consultation Services

Consultation services are available for staff and faculty members. Consultation may address a variety of issues, including such things as need for assistance in program planning, student referral questions, and interpersonal and communication difficulties in groups and organizations. Please call 797-1012 to request these services.

How to Help a Student in Distress

College students at USU may experience a great deal of stress during the course of their academic experience. As faculty members, teaching assistants, or staff members, you may directly encounter distressed students. Your role can be a positive and crucial one in identifying students who are in distress and assisting them to find the resources available to help themselves.

Symptoms of Distress

Students who are in distress typically show outward signs that they are struggling in some way. Students may need to be referred to CAPS if they are displaying the following symptoms:

  • Sudden drop in grades
  • Excessive absences or tardiness
  • Repeated requests to obtain deadline extensions or special considerations
  • Disruptive classroom behavior
  • Depressed or lethargic mood
  • Change in appearance and hygiene
  • Missed exams
  • Behavior that is disruptive or threatening
  • Inappropriate or exaggerated emotional reactions
  • Hyperactivity or very rapid speech
  • Incoherent speech, disorganized thoughts
  • Verbal or written references to suicide, homicide, or assaultive behavior
  • Complaints about a student from other students

What You Can Do

If you have decided to approach a student yourself, or a student reaches out to you for help, these suggestions may be useful to you:

  • Talk to the student in private when both of you have time and are not rushed.
  • Listen to thoughts and feelings in a sensitive, non-judgmental way - respond both to the content and emotions of the situation.
  • Discuss your observations and perceptions of the situation directly and honestly with the student.
  • Express your concern in a non-judgmental way. Respect the student's value system, even if you do not agree with it.
  • Be honest with the student about the limits of your ability to help him or her--Let the student know that you believe a consultation with a member of the CAPS staff may be helpful. If the student becomes defensive, simply restate your concerns and recommendations.
  • Make a referral: You can help by telling the student they may go to CAPS in room 306 of the Taggart Student Center. If the student is in crisis, we will make an appointment with them on the same day. You may also offer to make the call with them or to walk them over to CAPS yourself. Click here for more information on making an appointment.

Urgent Situations

Urgent situations might include a student expressing thoughts verbally or in writing that raise your level of concern; or engaging in troublesome behavior such as excessive rage, incoherent thoughts, and/or threats to harm self or others. In emergency situations, we recommend that you:

  • Provide a quiet and safe place for the student.
  • Maintain a calm and supportive attitude.
  • Do not leave the individual alone.
  • Make arrangements for immediate assistance by contacting CAPS, 797-1012 and/or Campus Police, 797-1939 If the student appears to be in imminent danger of hurting self or others, consult with CAPS or Campus Police immediately. Do not promise to keep threats to harm self or others confidential.

Confidentiality Guidelines

Once you have made a referral, it is normal to want to find out what happened and how you can continue to help the student. However, CAPS staff work within ethical principles of confidentiality that are defined by our disciplines and by Utah Law. We are happy to answer your general questions about making referrals to CAPS and to provide other referral ideas and information about psychological concerns. We can also take information from you regarding specific behaviors of a student. However, we cannot give information about a student without the student's written permission, nor can we confirm whether the student has come for an appointment or discuss specific details of the situation.