Faculty and Staff
Students frequently encounter stress at different times during the course of their academic experience. Students may also encounter personal or academic difficulties, or a combination of events which affect these areas of their lives. While most students do cope successfully with the challenges that these years bring, at times students may feel that the various pressures of life and academia are overwhelming and unmanageable.
Drexel University has made a commitment to assist students so that they can be successful academically as well as develop and grow as persons. If distressing circumstances are significantly affecting students, they may turn to you for assistance.
There are several ways to help a student in distress. You may help by continuing to provide essential support; by expressing your willingness to help; or by assisting the student in locating resources. Some students may have experience with psychological support services, while other students may not. Your role in identifying and referring students who are in distress can be extremely helpful to students in need of additional support.
Guidelines for Intervention
- Talk to a student in private.
- Express concern. Be as specific as possible in stating your observations and the reasons for concern.
- Be direct. It communicates respect and caring for the individual.
- Don't rush. Except in emergencies, the student should feel free to accept, consider, or refuse the referral.
- Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
- If the student resists help and you remain uncomfortable with the situation, contact the Counseling Center to discuss your concerns.
Making a Referral to the Counseling Center
There are several ways of making a referral to the Counseling Center. You may suggest that the student call or walk-in to the Counseling Center to make an appointment. Give the student the appropriate phone number and location at that time. It can sometimes be helpful to assist the student in making the first contact with the Counseling Center by calling the Center with the student present, or by escorting the student to the Center yourself. A telephone contact in advance, however, will help to reassure the student and prepare the staff for his or her arrival. If you are unsure about which referral is most appropriate for the student, please contact the Counseling Center directly to discuss the situation.
To make an appointment, students may contact 215.895.1415 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Counseling Center in 201 Creese Student Center.
In the event of an emergency or crisis after regular office hours you can contact the on-call counselor at 215.416.3337 or call Drexel Public Safety at 215.895.2822.
Identifying a Student in Distress
It may be difficult to know what exactly to look for when dealing with a student who may be in distress. While there is no formula for determining if a student is at risk, there are many signs and symptoms that may indicate that a student is experiencing difficulty. If, after reviewing these possible signs, you have concerns about a student, please direct him or her to the Counseling Center to schedule an appointment.
Signs and Symptoms of a Student in Distress
- Excessive procrastination and poorly prepared work, especially if this is inconsistent with previous work.
- Infrequent class attendance with little or no work completed.
- Social withdrawal.
- Listlessness, lack of energy, or frequent falling asleep in class.
- Marked changes in mood or personality.
- Marked changes in personal hygiene.
- Repeated requests for special consideration, e.g., deadline extensions.
- Impaired speech or garbled, disjointed thoughts.
- Behavior which regularly interferes with the decorum or effective management of your class.
- Overtly suicidal thoughts, e.g., referring to suicide as an option.
- High levels of irritability, unruly, or abrasive behavior.
- Inability to make decisions despite your repeated attempts to clarify and to encourage.
- Dramatic weight loss or weight gain.
- Bizarre or strange behavior.
- Normal emotions that are displayed to an extreme degree or for a prolonged period of time, e.g., fearfulness, tearfulness, or nervousness.
Warning Signs of Substance Abuse
If you think a student might have a substance abuse problem there may be some behaviors or symptoms that are easily observable and could indicate the presence of a problem. The following signs and symptoms might indicate that someone has or is at risk for having a problem with drugs or alcohol:
- You have heard reports or seen the student drinking excessively.
- The student has been involved in disciplinary actions as a result of alcohol or drug intoxication.
- The student's grades have suffered because of excess substance use.
- The student has been involved in accidents in which alcohol is involved.
- The student misses classes or appointments because s/he is hung over.
- The student is having difficulties in relationships with peers because of his or her excessive use of alcohol or drugs.
- The student has been involved in sexual activity he or she later regrets.
- The student has had erratic emotional outbursts.
- The student has 'black outs'.
- The student is unable to modify his or her drinking or drug use.
- The student has experienced weight loss, medical difficulties, or is exhibiting poor hygiene.
If students show any of these signs it might be indicative of a problem. You might suggest that they speak with someone at the Counseling Center to address some of their concerns, or perhaps to take a look at the role that drugs and alcohol play in their lives.