What can you do when a student displays varying levels of distress?
These problems are the easiest to identify, and specific procedures for helping students in crisis have been delineated. you need to stay calm and know who to call for help. Find someone to stay with the student while calls to the appropriate agency are made.
- Transportation and/or Protection (24 hours): Moorhead Police (911); Campus Security (299.3123)
- EmergencyConsultation & Evaluation: Counseling Center (299.3514); Health Center (299.3662)
- Emergency Consultation: Dean of Students (299.3455)
Mild or Moderate Distress
In dealing with a student who shows mild or moderate levels of distress, you have several choices. You can choose not to deal with it at all; deal directly with the request or disruptive behavior in a way that limits your interaction to the immediate issue at hand; or you can deal with the situation on a more personal level. If you choose to approach a student you are concerned about, or if a student seeks you out for help, here are some suggestions that might make the opportunity more comfortable for you and more helpful to the student:
- Talk to the student in private when neither of you will be rushed or preoccupied. Give the student your undivided attention. It is possible that just a few minutes of effective listening on your part may be enough to help the student feel comfortable about what to do next
- If you initiated the contact, express your concern in behavioral, nonjudgmental terms. For example, you might say, "I've noticed you've been missing a lot of class lately, and I'm concerned"
- Listen to thoughts and feelings in a sensitive, non-threatening way. Let the student talk, and communicate that you understand
- Avoid judging, evaluating, or criticizing unless the student specifically asks for your opinion. Such behavior is apt to close the student off from you and from getting the help needed. It is important to respect the student's value system, which may be undergoing challenges or change, even if you do not agree with it
- Explore what the student has done previously to resolve the problem. Encourage implementation of strategies that have been helpful before, or help them think of new ways of handling the problem. If necessary, work with the student to clarify what she or he perceives to be the costs and benefits of their options for handling the problem