RESPONDING TO DISTRESSED STUDENTS
Privately initiate contact with a student displaying symptoms of distress. Do not ignore concerning behavior displayed by a student. You should respond to it immediately! Express your concerns in behavioral, non-judgmental terms and listen to the student in a sensitive, non-threatening way.
When attempting to talk with a student about a personal or emotional situation, it is helpful to:
• Talk to the student in a private setting
• Listen actively, with interest and concern
• Avoid promising confidentiality
• Avoid reacting with alarm or excessive emotion
• Talk in a calm, even voice, despite the student's level of emotionality
• Repeat back the essence of what the student has told you
• Respect the students right to their own values by avoiding judgmental or ‘moralizing’ remarks or religious references (“have you prayed about it?”)
• Offer counseling at MUSC’s Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) as a resource and discuss a referral with the student
• Consider consulting with professionals at CAPS. Call 843-792-4930 for assistance.
• If the student resists help and you are concerned, contact BSIT to discuss your concerns.
Know Your Limits as a Help-Giver – only go as far as your resources and/or training allow; when a student needs more help than you are willing or able to give, it is time to make a referral to the appropriate professional and/or department.
• If a student’s situation is serious and the student is reluctant or unwilling to seek professional help, inform student that you may need to share relevant information with appropriate university personnel (e.g. University Public Safety, MUSC BSIT, Supervisor).
• Faculty and staff should report any type of behavior or threat of behavior that could threaten the well-being of any person and/or may disrupt the university community to the appropriate university personnel (e.g. University Public Safety, MUSC BSIT, Supervisor).
Threatening and Dangerous Behavior
• If a student’s behavior is threatening towards self and/or others, immediately contact 911 or University Public Safety at 843-792-4196.
• If student makes you feel uneasy – consult with someone else; don’t meet the student in an isolated place; set limits with the student.
• If a student reports suicidal ideation (expressing thoughts, feelings, or intentions about wanting to cause harm to oneself), immediately contact 911 or University Public Safety at 843-792-4196 (depending on the nature of the ideation, MUSC’s Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) at 843-792-4930 could be contacted as well); then make a secondary phone call to a BSIT team member.