Distressed Student Protocol
PurposeIt is common for students to feel distressed at one time or another due to difficulties with adjustment, stress, anxiety, self-esteem, and relationship problems and may exhibit symptoms such as depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and more. We have counseling services available for students, which are free of charge to them, but these services are limited and often book appointments quickly. However, in times where there is not a counselor available, we have designated staff to assist students in distress with additional resources and/or stress reduction strategies.
Is this student Distressed or in Crisis?There are warning signs when symptoms of distress persist over time and may suggest that the problem may be a cause for concern. A crisis is a situation in which an individual’s usual style of coping is no longer effective, and the emotional or physiological response begins to escalate. Knowing the severity of a student’s distress is important to providing the best response and support.
Signs of a Distressed Student
- Changes in academic performance
- Changes in attendance at class or meetings
- Depressed or lethargic mood
- Hyperactivity and/or rapid speech
- Withdrawal from friends or daily activities
- Change in personal habits
- Behavior that pushes the limits of decorum and that interferes with the educational environment
- Unusual or exaggerated emotional response to events
Signs of a Mental Health Crisis
- Destruction of property or other criminal acts
- Extreme anxiety resulting in panic reactions
- Inability to communicate
- Suicidal statements or attempts
- Loss of contact with reality or highly irrational thinking
- Highly disruptive behavior
- Confused and repetitive thinking
- Fighting or assaultive behavior
- Physical signs such as immobilization, shaking, agitation and aggression
WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR A STUDENT IN DISTRESS OR IN CRISIS
If you choose to approach a student you are concerned about or if a student seeks you out, here
are some suggestions:
- Request to see the student in private. Briefly acknowledge your observations and perceptions of their situation and express your concerns directly and honestly.
- Listen carefully to what the student is troubled about and try to see the issue from his/her point of view without agreeing or disagreeing.
- Assist the student in scheduling an appointment for counseling. If the student can wait to see the counselor on another day, assist the student in scheduling an appointment online using the Davidson-Davie website, on the Counseling, Health and Disability Access Services webpage.
- Be open about the limits on your ability to help them. If the student appears to be in imminent danger of hurting self or others, consult the Campus Resource Officer and counselor immediately. Do not promise to keep a student’s threats to self or others secret.
- Use Distressed Student Referral Protocol to make a referral to designated staff if a distressed student:
- Presents complicated issues such as coping with the death of a loved one, abuse, assault, confrontation, etc.
- Displays exaggerated emotional responses such as yelling, crying excessively, etc.
- Requests to speak with someone immediately and/or privately
- Is unable to speak with the licensed counselor on campus at the time of their distress
- Follow up with appropriate staff and provide support when necessary.
If a student is experiencing a mental health crisis, please contact counselor immediately. If the student appears to be in imminent danger of hurting self or others, consult the Campus Resource Officer and follow Davidson-Davie Community College Emergency protocol.
Distressed Student Response Protocol
If counseling services are not immediately available, and a student is actively distressed, the following individuals can assist the student with additional resources and/or stress reduction strategies. Individuals are listed in order from first to refer a distressed student, to the last to refer a distressed student depending upon availability.