Body + Mind + Spirit

Staff and Faculty Resources

Counseling Services also offers services for staff and faculty. We can provide consultation about a student’s unusual, problematic or potentially harmful behavior toward self or others. We also conduct workshops and classroom presentations on a variety of wellness topics.

How to Help a Student in Distress

Faculty and staff, because of their proximity and sensitivity to students, often become aware of a variety of problems that can seriously interfere with concentration, self-confidence, sense of safety and well-being, and productivity in the classroom.

Students are encouraged to see the counselor when they are stressed and use the services as a place to get support and encouragement when they are experiencing success. Counseling offers various benefits, including talking about personal issues in a safe, confidential setting; problem-solving and setting goals; and developing positive coping skills.

What are Warning Signs of a Distressed Student?

Below are behavioral and emotional signs of distress:

  • When a student is hanging around your office more frequently than you feel is necessary to answer simple questions or appears to be looking for an opening to talk more personally
  • When a student does not appear to be coping very well with issues in her life, such as serious loss, death or debilitating illness in her family, loss of a friend or a serious relationship, chronic academic difficulty or a sudden drop in what has been satisfactory performance, her own serious illness or injury, relationship or family conflicts
  • When she appears to be depressed, anxious, isolated or alienated from peers or is missing a lot of class time
  • When she makes references to suicidal thoughts, depression, sexual abuse/assault, body image issues, alcohol or drugs, doing harm to herself or others, anxiety or panic attacks, violence in her relationship or pregnancy issues
  • When she has sudden, perhaps frequent, unexplained, emotional outbursts of crying or anger and hostility directed at you or others
  • When she has had a sudden disruption of regular habits, such as sleeping too much or too little; substantial increases or decreases in food intake; and physical complaints such as severe headaches, stomach trouble or chronic fatigue
  • When she has speech or personal notes written to you in which thought patterns are disconnected, rambling, confused or nonsensical
  • When she has a change in dress, appearance or grooming, which conveys a sense of neglect, hopelessness or loss of self-esteem
  • When your gut intuition tells you that something just is not right

What is the Best Way to Help Distressed Students?

As a faculty or staff member, students often turn to you for advice or support about personal concerns. The most helpful thing you can do for a student who seems to be having a problem is to tell her about Counseling Services.

Know and express your limitations. Faculty and staff are not expected to be professional counselors. However, you can serve as an important link to Counseling Services. When you offer to help a student find professional assistance, you also are clarifying your own boundaries in terms of time, energy, expertise and how involved you are willing to get, given all of your other responsibilities.

How to Make a Referral

The best referrals are made out of a sincere concern for the student’s well-being, safety and effective functioning.

Counseling Services does not usually initiate contact with a potential student client out of respect for individual privacy and the intrusiveness and ineffectiveness of such an approach. Faculty, staff, parents and fellow students are encouraged to make contact with the student and refer her to counseling. Counseling is most successful when the student makes her own appointment.

Tips for making a referral:

  • Acknowledge the student’s state of distress and offer to find help for the student
  • Share as much information and reassurance as you can
  • Tell her how to make an appointment with Counseling Services.

    • Students can make an appointment by contacting the counselor directly at 414-382-6119.
    • Counseling Services hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Evening appointments are by special arrangement. The counseling office is located in the Counseling and Health Services suite, AF 208, next door to Student Services.
    • Students with appointments usually take priority over students who are walk-ins.

  • Let the student know that counseling is free and voluntary and that she can terminate the process whenever she wants to do so.
  • Do not promise that a student will be seen immediately. Students are usually seen within 48 hours of their initial request for services.
  • Indicate that counseling is confidential and that information is not shared with anyone or kept in the student’s permanent academic record.

No matter how much you think a student could benefit from counseling, it is ultimately her decision. The best thing you can do is steer her in the right direction and let her make her own decision. Typical responses from students when given a referral:

  • She will contact Counseling Services to make an appointment
  • She will not acknowledge there is a problem
  • She already has a counselor she sees on a regular basis
  • She is choosing to use support systems other than counseling

If you would like help developing a plan of action, you can contact any of the following people to express your concern:

  • Wendy Powers, dean of students, 414-382-6494
  • Vicki Schreiber, assistant dean of students, 414-382-6116
  • Meg Pledl, director of Counseling and Health Services, 414-382-6119

Other Helpful Campus Resources

What If It Is An Emergency?

If you are dealing with a student who is having a mental health crisis or if you think she is considering harming herself or others, call Counseling Services or Security immediately.

  • Take all threats, hints and notes seriously.
  • During regular office hours, call Counseling Services at 414-382-6119 and say that it is an emergency.
  • If the counselor is not available, or it is after regular office hours, call Security at 414-382-6911.
  • If someone is having a mental health crisis, the best and safest place for that person, even if she does not want to go, is Milwaukee County Psychiatric Crisis Services.

    Milwaukee County Mental Health Psychiatric Crisis Services
    9499 Watertown Plank Road
    414-257-7222

  • Do not transport the student yourself.
  • Once Counseling Services or Security is involved with the student, it is appropriate for you to reassure the student that she is being taken care of and remove yourself from the situation.