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For Faculty and Staff

Making referrals to Counseling Services

Faculty and staff are often the first to witness early signs of distress. Students seek assistance from faculty and staff members, especially when they perceive you to be available and willing to listen.
Students dealing with personal concerns or problems tend to show signs that they are struggling.  When symptoms of distress persist over several weeks, they can interfere with a student’s academic responsibilities and relationships.

This section was prepared as a guide to assist UW Fox Valley faculty and staff in identifying when a student might be in distress, and making successful referrals to Counseling Services.

When to Refer

  1. When you identify cluster of signs that indicate that the student might be distressed that appear approximately at the same time
  • Stated Need for Help

    The desire for assistance in dealing with a problem may be stated directly or indirectly. For this reason, it is important to attend to both the content of what a student is saying and the possible feelings and intentions underlying his or her message. Listening involves hearing the way things are being said, noticing the tone used, and observing the expressions and gestures employed. Students may communicate personal problems to you via email rather than face-to-face. Others may get your attention in a written class assignment by references to emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; depression and/or thoughts of suicide, death, or other very personal reasons.

  • Changes in Mood or Behavior

    Actions that are inconsistent with an individual's normal behavior may indicate that he or she is experiencing psychological distress. An individual, who withdraws from usual social interaction, demonstrates an unwillingness to communicate, commits antisocial acts, has spells of unexplained crying or outbursts of anger, or demonstrates unusual irritability may be suffering from symptoms associated with a psychological problem.

  • Signs of Anxiety or Depression

    Anxiety and depression are two of the more common psychological disturbances that can present emotional states, and when they become prolonged or severe, can impair an individual's normal functioning. When an individual's ability to function in a normal manner becomes impaired due to anxiety or depression, some kind of assistance can be recommended.

  • References to Suicide

    An immediate referral is necessary when an individual alludes to details of where, when, or how he or she may be contemplating suicide. Regardless of the circumstances or context, any reference to committing suicide should be considered serious. To conclude that a student's suicidal talk is simply a bid for attention is extremely risky. A judgment about the seriousness of the suicidal thought or gesture should not be made without consultation with a mental health professional.

  • Physical Complaints

    Physical distress or complaints, which seem to have no apparent cause, may be indicative of psychological or stress-related problems. Some physical symptoms of these problems may include a loss of appetite or excessive eating, insomnia or excessive sleeping, frequent headaches, fatigue, or gastrointestinal distress.

  • Traumatic Changes in Personal Relationships

    Personal problems often result when an individual experiences traumatic changes in personal relationships. The death of a family member or close friend, difficulties in marriage or family relationships, divorce, changes in family responsibilities, and difficulties in other significant relationships can all result in increased stress and psychological difficulties.

  • Signs of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

    Students may attend class under the influence of a drug or exhibit signs of being "hung over." Excessive drinking, drug abuse, or drug dependence are almost always indicative of psychological problems.

  • Academic Problems

    Many students find the demands of college level academic work to be greater than anticipated. While it is expected that all students will go through some adjustment periods, frequent absences, failure to complete assignments, and inattentiveness in class are problems that might have a psychological or emotional basis and thus might be appropriate for personal counseling. Many of our clients indicate that personal problems have an effect on their academic performance.

2. When you are unsure of the limits of your involvement with a particular student's problem, such as in the following situations:

  • A student presents a problem or requests information that is outside your range of knowledge. Students often present complex and complicated emotional problems that may feel overwhelming;
  • You feel that personality differences between you and the student will interfere with your helping the student;
  • You feel uncomfortable dealing with the issue or problem because of your personal relationship (he or she is a friend, neighbor, relative, etc.);
  • A student is reluctant to discuss a problem with you;
  • You do not believe your counseling with the student has been effective;
  • You lack sufficient time to listen effectively to the student;
  • A student is becoming over-reliant or dependent upon you.

You are welcome to call Counseling Services to consult with a counselor about your concerns for a student and if a referral is appropriate.

How to Refer

  1. Use a direct approach with the student and express your concern for his or her welfare. Do not attempt to deceive or trick the student into seeking counseling. Make it clear that your recommendation for counseling represents your best judgment based on your assessment of his or her particular problem(s). Be specific regarding the behaviors that have raised your concerns, and avoid making generalizations about the individual.
  2. Anticipate and be prepared to address common student concerns and fears about seeking counseling.
  3. To initiate contact with a counselor, you may suggest that the student call Counseling Services immediately from our office. Otherwise, encourage the student to make an appointment on their own by call 832-2697 or stopping by the Counseling Services office in room 1309. Leave the option open, except in emergencies, for the student to accept or refuse counseling. If the student is skeptical or reluctant for whatever reason, simply express your acceptance of those feelings so that you own relationship with the student is not jeopardized. Give the student an opportunity to consider other alternatives by suggesting that he or she might need some time to think it over. If the student emphatically says "no", then respect that decision and again leave the situation open for possible reconsideration at a later time.
  4. Ask the student later what action he or she has taken. Even if the student did not accept your attempted referral it will show your continued interest.
  5. Remember that counselors are bound by confidentiality and cannot give you any information regarding whether the student sought services.

*The Counseling Services phone number is linked directly to the Samaritan Counseling Center Office when a counselor on campus is not available. During business hours, students can call to make an appointment with a counselor on campus. Staff/faculty can also call for consultation. Unless the student requests a specific counselor for the intake interview, he or she will be assigned to the first available counselor. After business hours, the call will be directed to an answering system and they can leave a message and the counselor or receptionist will call back during business hours

BIT (Behavioral Intervention Team)

The Behavioral Intervention (BIT) was created primarily to identify disruptive, at-risk or threatening behavior, document concerns and determine appropriate steps to protect the university individuals and community and community at large.  A secondary purpose of BIT is to educate and train the members of our university community to recognize and report potential threats/risks to BIT.
Faculty, staff are encouraged to contact any member of BIT to share information if they feel outreach or follow-up may be of assistance to a student.

Because of our interest in protecting the identity of individuals, communication with BIT should be done in person or by phone. Avoid emails because email messages are subject to Open Records requests and disclosure requirements.

BIT members:

Campus Administrator: Bill Bultman (primary contact)
Psychology Professor: Kathy Immel
Mental Health Counselor: Hannah Keesler
Regional Associate Dean for Student Affairs: Carla Rabe
Dir of Student Conduct and Compliance: Kristine McCaslin
City of Menasha Police Dept Liaison: Aaron Zemlock

For additional information http://www.uwc.edu/students/safety/  then click on “Preventing Events of Mass Campus Violence"

Campus resources

Off-campus resources

  • Menasha Police department
  • County Mental Health Services
  • Outpatient Mental Health Services
  • AODA Treatment Services
  • Health System Mental Health Services
  • Inpatient Mental Health Services