When to Refer a Student

The college years can be a time of both excitement and stress for students. Sometimes new challenges, stresses, and freedoms can lead to difficulties. Common problems that students sometimes experience while in college include:

  • Depression
  • Stress Management
  • Eating/Body Image Concerns
  • Anxiety
  • Substance Use/Abuse
  • Time Management; and
  • Relationship Concerns.

If these problems are not addressed, they may result in emotional, academic or social difficulties for the student. The Counseling & Wellness Center at New College of Florida can often help students resolve their concerns so they can feel better and get “back on track” with their academic work.

Below are resources for parents, faculty, and others who may want to refer a student to the CWC.

1. Depression
While we all may feel depressed from time to time, “normal” depression typically consists of only one or two symptoms; and, usually will pass within a few days. Clinically depressed students will exhibit multiple symptoms for a longer period of time. Some of these symptoms are depressed mood, sleep disturbances, poor concentration, change in appetite, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, withdrawal, poor hygiene, loss of self-esteem, and preoccupation with death.

2. Agitation or Acting Out
This would represent a departure from normal or socially appropriate behavior. It might include being disruptive, restless or hyper-active; being antagonistic, and increased alcohol and/or drug abuse.

3. Disorientation
Distressed students may seem “out of it.” You may notice a diminished awareness of what is going on around them, forgetting or losing things, misperception of facts or reality, rambling or disconnected speech, and behavior that seems out of context or bizarre.

4. Drug and Alcohol Abuse
If someone is drinking or using drugs excessively and/or increasingly this may be a sign of abuse. Also, signs of intoxication during class, during interaction with faculty or staff, or in risky situations such as while driving a car are indicative of a problem that requires attention.

5. Suicidal Thoughts
Most people who attempt suicide communicate early messages about their distress. These messages can range from “I don’t want to be here”, to a series of vague “good-byes”, to “I’m going to kill myself.” Non-verbal messages could include giving away valued items, and putting legal, financial, and other affairs in order. All of the above messages should be taken seriously.

6. Violence and Aggression
You may become aware of students who may be dangerous to others. This may be manifested by physically violent behavior, verbal threats, threatening e-mail or letters, harassing or stalking behavior, and papers or exams that contain violent or threatening material.

  • Listen
  • Be supportive and open to the information
  • Assist in problem solving, but try not to rush to the rescue.

Encourage him/her/them to visit the Counseling and Wellness Center (941-487-4254, Monday-Friday 8 AM- 5 PM).

If your student indicates that they are in immediate danger, contact the Campus Police at 941-487-4210.

Wait – and take a breath.

  • Give yourself time to process what your student is telling you, and LISTEN

Think carefully about your response.

  • A student may fear disappointing you.
  • Be honest and direct.
  • Show support and acceptance

Acknowledge their feelings.

  • Reflect that you understand how a situation may be difficult for the student.
  • This is not the time to talk about how it is difficult for you.
  • Acknowledge your own feelings.
  • Be honest about your feelings

Take some time.

  • If your feelings are too strong to deal with right now, or if your student is too emotional, take time to think about what needs to be discussed and talk in a couple hours.

Keep your discussion as objective as possible.

  • Try to listen more than talk at first. Don’t respond yet. Get the facts.

Be rational.

  • Try to remain calm and thoughtful about the reality of the situation and options moving forward.

Be clear.

  • If there are limits to what you will support, be clear about them.
  • If you have expectations moving forward, spell them out.

Utilize your resources.

  • Depending on the concern your student has there are several resources on campus which can assist them:
    • Counseling Center
    • Disability Services
    • Advisor/Provost Office
    • Library/Academic Resource Center

(Source: http://collegeparents.org/)

How to Make a Referral

Typically it is prudent to telephone the Counseling and Wellness Center after you and the student have agreed counseling would be beneficial. You should identify yourself and the nature of the situation when you contact the Counseling and Wellness Center.

You may want to speak with a counselor regarding the situation in order to facilitate the referral. The Counseling and Wellness Center can ordinarily provide same-day counseling in a crisis, but it is helpful for us to know the nature of the crisis in advance. If you do not feel it is necessary to speak to a counselor, the student can simply obtain an appointment by providing some identifying information to our receptionist.

Keep in mind when making a referral:

  • Convey your concern for the student’s well-being.
  • Explain what you have heard or observed that makes you concerned about the student.
  • Recommend the Counseling and Wellness Center.
  • Tell the student as much as you can about the Counseling and Wellness Center.
  • Aid the student in making an appointment, either by calling the Center with them (941-487-4254) or walking to the Center with them
  • If a student is not sure about services, and is NOT IN CRISIS, you can also refer to the Counseling and Wellness Center webpage (ncf.edu/cwc) which has several self-guided resources, and the Interactive Screening Program which allows students to anonymously interact with a therapist from the CWC.

After the referral:

  • Ask the student how it went, without prying too much for information.
  • Continue to be supportive and inquire periodically how he/she is doing.
  • Contact the referral if you learn additional information that may be important or relevant.

Responding to student emergencies:

Immediate and decisive intervention is needed when an individual’s behavior poses a threat to self or others, including:

  • Suicidal gestures, intentions, or attempts.
  • Other behavior posing a threat to the student (e.g., hallucinations, drug abuse).
  • Threats or aggression directed towards others (e.g., implies or makes direct threat to others, displays firearm/weapon, physically confronts/attacks another person.
  • Demonstrated inability to care for oneself

Campus resources for responding to mental health emergencies are:

NCF Police (941-487-4210) or 911

Counseling and Wellness Center (941-487-4254)