Emergency Crisis Counseling: Helping Students in Distress
What can you do?
Assess the level of concern.
Students experiencing mild to moderate distress may show these signs:
- Decline in grades
- Decline in attendance
- Unusual or changed pattern of interaction or behavior
- Depressed or lethargic mood; very rapid speech; swollen red eyes; falling asleep in class
- Unusual or exaggerated emotional response
- Repeated requests for special consideration such as deadline extensions
- Shows signs of injury to self
- Increased drug or alcohol use
Students experiencing acute or severe distress may show these signs:
- Highly disruptive behavior
- Inability to communicate clearly (rambling garbled thoughts)
- Loss of contact with reality
- Stalking behaviors
- Hostile communications (threats, etc.)
- Suicidal thoughts and/or plans
- Threats to harm others
- Extreme suspiciousness/paranoia
Guidelines for talking with a student with any level of distress:
- Accept and respect what is said
- Avoid easy answers, such as, "Everything will be alright"
- Share your concerns with your chair or dean
- Do not swear secrecy or offer confidentiality to the person
- Respect the student's value system, even if you don't agree
- Seek appropriate resources when necessary i.e: Counseling, Tutoring, Women Resource Center
If you are worried about the student's safety; but it is not an emergency situation (mild to moderate distress):
- When called for, let the person know you are worried about their safety and describe the behavior or situation that is worrisome to you
- If you are concerned the student may be feeling hopeless and thinking about ending their life, ask if she/he is contemplating suicide. It is important to remember that talking about suicide is a cry for help and is not to be ignored. Seek help from one of the resources listed.
- Offer to be a resource until they can obtain professional counseling
- After the student leaves your office, make some notes documenting your interactions
- Consult with others regarding your experience
How to handle an emergency situation (acute or severe distress):
- Offer to walk the student to the Counseling office if appropriate
- Remain calm and know whom to call for help, if necessary. Find someone to stay with the student while calls to appropriate resources are made
- Remember that it is NOT your responsibility to provide the professional help needed for a severely troubled/disruptive student. You need only to make the necessary call and request assistance
- When a student expresses a direct threat to themselves or others, or act in a bizarre, highly irrational or disruptive way, call the Department of Public Safety, 313-593-5333
- For any Emergency Crisis that occurs after office hours, please contact Campus Safety 24-Hour Dispatch at (313) 593-5333.
If Emergency Psychiatric Care and/or emergency referrals for medication is needed students can call the following local community mental health center or crisis intervention service:
Psychiatric Intervention Center (P.I.C.)
Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO)
UM-Dearborn students who have the University's student health insurance policy, Chickering Plan, can go to www.aetna.com/docfind for a list of psychiatrists for medication.