Help a Student

The college experience often marks a time of substantial personal, emotional, social and psychological growth. During this time, it is also common for students to experience various levels of distress. Some students will need additional support for addressing stressors or life challenges, and you have the ability to help a student in distress.

Know the signs of distress, how to respond and how to connect with the Barnes Center at The Arch health and wellness team when you notice difficulties are negatively impacting a student’s well-being.

Signs of Distress

  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Avoidance, withdrawing
  • Declining grades
  • Exaggerated emotional responses inappropriate to the situation or environment
  • Fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, stomachache, etc.
  • Inconsistent attendance
  • Marked changes in appearance or habits such as, deterioration in grooming or hygiene, dramatic weight loss, marked withdrawal in a normally outgoing person
  • Perpetually tired, anxious, depressed, irritable, angry, or sad

If you believe a student is experiencing severe distress, please call the 24-Hour Support line at 315.443.8000.

  • Abuse (emotional, verbal, physical, sexual assault and relationship violence)
  • Continued academic difficulties
  • Highly disruptive behavior
  • Loss of contact with reality
  • Self-injury
  • Significant interpersonal difficulties (isolation, inappropriate communication, conflicts)
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Threats of violence
  • Use of alcohol or other substances that interferes with academic or social life

If you believe a student is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 (or 711 from an on-campus phone) immediately.

  • Anger and anxiety
  • Depression or other mood changes
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Feeling trapped and hopeless
  • Impulsiveness or recklessness
  • References indicating a desire to die
  • Statements indicating suicidal thinking
  • Suffering a major loss or life change
  • Withdrawal from friends/family

Responding to Distress

It is important to trust your instincts and recognize your limitations when responding to a student in distress.

If you believe a student is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 (or 711 from an on-campus phone) immediately.

If you believe a student is experiencing severe distress, please call the 24-Hour Support line at 315.443.8000.

When a student is facing mild/moderate distress, here are some helpful tactics when responding to the student:

  • Allow the student to talk freely
  • Do not promise confidentiality
  • Encourage the student to seek support services
  • Help student to clarify the problem
  • Identify possible campus resources
  • Identify what has worked in the past
  • Respect and accept the student’s value system
  • Take them seriously; ask directly about what is going on

Consultation and Making a Referral

Help a student by consulting with the counseling staff or making a referral. The Barnes Center at The Arch’s counseling consulting services are available to parents, family members, faculty, staff and friends regarding a student concern by calling 315.443.8000. Those closest to a student may be the first to recognize they may be struggling. Except in emergency situations, the option should be left to the student to accept or refuse a referral for counseling.

  • Address the impact of bias-related incidents, sexual and relationship violence or other harassing and threatening behaviors on students;
  • Consult about a particular student who is in distress or is struggling with a mental health concern;
  • Design specific programming on the mental health or wellness concerns that may affect unique student populations within the university community.
  • Offer debriefings with groups of students after a campus death or other traumatic experience;
  • Outline trainings available on mental health issues and strategies for helping students; and
  • Provide information about how to access our services.

  • Call the Barnes Center at The Arch at 315.443.8000, or have the student call from your office to arrange an appointment.
  • Agree that the student will independently contact the Barnes Center at The Arch counseling team to make an appointment.