Assisting students in distress
Use this table to determine whom to contact when faced with a distressed or distressing student.
Call 911 or Campus Police.
The student shows signs of distress but I am unsure how serious it is. My interaction has left me feeling uneasy and/or really concerned about the student.
Consult with and/or refer to the Counseling Center.
Refer students to an appropriate campus resource.
CSU faculty and staff are in a unique position to demonstrate compassion for CSU students in distress.
Both undergraduate and graduate students may feel alone, isolated, and even hopeless when faced with academic and life challenges. These feelings can easily disrupt academic performance and may lead to difficulties coping and other serious consequences.
You may be the first person to SEE SOMETHING distressing in your students since you have frequent and prolonged contact with them. The California State University, in collaboration with the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), requests that you act with compassion when assisting students.
Students exhibiting troubling behaviors in your presence are likely having difficulties in various settings including the classroom, with roommates, with family, and even in social settings.
Trust your instincts and SAY SOMETHING if a student leaves you feeling worried, alarmed or threatened!
Sometimes students cannot or will not turn to family or friends. DO SOMETHING! Your expression of concern may be a critical factor in saving a student’s academic career or even their life. The purpose of this folder is to help you recognize symptoms of student distress and identify appropriate referrals to campus resources.
A student whose conduct is clearly and imminently reckless, disorderly, dangerous or threatening, including self-harmful behavior.
If you are concerned for your own or others’ safety due to a student’s disruptive and/or threatening behavior, call 911 or the Campus Police Department.
Campus Police Department
A student with persistent behaviors such as:
If you believe there is a safety risk, contact the Campus Police Department.
BE PROACTIVE: Engage students early on, pay attention to signs of distress, and set limits on disruptive behavior.
BE DIRECT: Don’t be afraid to ask students directly if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, feeling confused, or having thoughts of harming themselves or others.
LISTEN SENSITIVELY AND CAREFULLY: Use a non-confrontational approach and a calm voice. Avoid threatening, humiliating and intimidating responses.
SAFETY FIRST: The welfare of the campus community is the top priority when a student displays threatening or potentially violent behavior. Do not hesitate to call for help.
FOLLOW THROUGH: Direct the student to the physical location of the identified resource.
CONSULTATION AND DOCUMENTATION: Always document your interactions with distressed students and consult with your department chair/supervisor after any incident.