Staff & Faculty Tips for Assisting Students in Distress
At Trent, many faculty and staff members ensure that they communicate with students on a personal level. As relationships develop, some students may reveal personal challenges . Faculty and staff are often the first to notice students experiencing personal problems.
Signs to Look For:
Changes in performance or behaviour
- Decrease in achievement (quality/quantity of work or participation)
- Excessive absence or tardiness
- Social withdrawal, depressed mood, restlessness, agitation
- Loss of interest and decrease in motivation
Unusual behaviour or appearance
- Abrupt change in behaviour or personal hygiene
- Ritualistic or repetitive behaviour
- Disorganized thinking, speech and expression
- Significant weight gain or loss
- Disruptive behaviour in class or living situation
- Indications of substance misuse
Indicators of self-harm
- Communicating thoughts of suicide or self-harm directly or indirectly
- Expressing thoughts of hopelessness/helplessness
- Termination acts (eg. Giving away possessions, saying goodbyes)
- Repeated reference to death or suicide
How to help:
Listen: Resist the urge to advise and solve problem right away . Take the time to listen . Demonstrate empathy by reflecting the content of the message. Example : Tm hearing you're feeling sad right now and that it's really hard ."
Look for solutions: Identify how the student has attempted to resolve their problems . Focus on solutions , using strengths and successes. Encourage the student to use healthy coping strategies they have used in the past. Example : "What helps you when you're sad?"
Set limits and boundaries: Let the student know your personal limits . Don't allow yourself to feel overly responsible for the student's wellbeing . Offer information about resources . Example : "I have to leave for another appointment in 30 minutes, but I'd like to help . Let's look at resources for help you can access today."
When to refer:
- You are not comfortable discussing the issue
- The student requires information you are unable to provide
- Helping the student further may compromise your relationship
- There are personality differences or personal feelings which may interfere with your ability to work with the student
- The student is exhibiting any of the following:
- Suicidal Ideation
- Feelings of panic
- Experience of a traumatic event
- Mental status concerns (eg. Psychosis)
How to refer:
To refer a student to any of the Student Wellness Centre Services, simply provide them with information on how to access the service available on our Overview of Services page. If you have a specific concern about the student, you may want to phone and speak to the staff at the Student Wellness Centre
When a student refuses a referral:
Unless it is a clear emergency, respect the student's right to accept or refuse counselling. The student may require time to think about the issue. Try to keep an open line of communication with the student while maintaining boundaries .
If a student discloses an incidence of sexual violence, the best thing you can do is believe the student and connect them with resources right away.
During office hours , the first point of contact for students who have experienced sexual violence is the Sexual Violence Prevention and Peer Support Coordinator, Robyn Ocean at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After hours, support is available through the Peterborough Regional Health Centre 's Emergency Department or the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre's support line 705-741-0260.
For more information visit the Sexual Violence Prevention & Response page.
The Student Wellness Centre has an important legal and ethical responsibility to ensure client confidentiality . Once a referral is made, communication between the student and the Student Wellness Centre is normally kept confidential. Information can therefore not be shared without the student's written consent.
For a crisis on campus during office hours:
For a crisis on campus after hours:
4 Counties Crisis Line
Durham Mental Health Services
If you think a student is likely to harm themself or others, do not leave the student alone and send someone for help. It may be necessary to call 911 to escort a student to the hospital.