Once you identify a student who is experiencing a pattern of the above symptoms, you must decide whether or not to confront that student. Whether you are a faculty/staff member or a parent, if you do choose to speak with the student, the following are some guidelines for your interaction:
1) Encourage the student to call Counseling Services at 585-245-5716 to schedule an appointment. Wait time for an initial MEETing appointment is usually within 1-2 weeks, although a counselor can arrange for a same-day/more immediate appointments in crisis situations. NOTE: Although you may place the call to our office while the student is with you, the student will need to schedule his/her own appointment.
2) In the case of a mental health crisis which occurs during business hours, call 585-245-5716 and let our secretary know that you need assistance with a crisis situation; our secretary will then connect with our counselor on call or have that counselor get back to you as soon as possible. For information on how to respond to crises which occur outside of business hours, go to the Health & Counseling Emergency Information page.
3) If you are concerned about a student but are uncertain about the appropriateness of a referral, feel free to call Counseling Services and speak with a member of our professional staff.
While it is important to care about the emotional well being of students, we cannot make their decisions for them, and counseling is always a personal choice. Nevertheless, you can assist a student who is ambivalent about seeking professional help in a number of ways.
Penn State's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) web site offers an excellent online workshop for recognizing students in distress; the workshop includes video role plays of student-professor interactions to assist you with this process. To learn more about the workshop, click here to go to CAPS.
If you are looking for more general guidelines regarding how to handle potentially difficult classroom situations, visit this excellent page from Hobart and William Smith Colleges on Managing Emotional Discussions.
Finally, you may also want to consider adding a mental health statement to your syllabi. For more information, view our Faculty Guidelines for Mental Health Statement on Syllabi.