Emergency Crisis Counseling: Helping Students in Distress
Need Immediate Help?
- 313-593-5430 UM-Dearborn Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS). Remember, after 5pm, during weekends or during an university closure, just call CAPS main number at 313-593-5430. CAPS provides after hours phone services to students in need.
- 313-593-5333 Campus Police
- 800-273-8255 National Suicide Hotline
- 734-721-0200 Psychiatric Intervention Center
- 800-799-7233 National Domestic Violence Hotline
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, Dean of Students
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
- Complete a CARE report
How to handle an emergency situation (acute or severe distress):
- Offer to walk the student to the CAPS 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