University students often experience a great amount of stress during the course of their academic experiences. While most students cope successfully with the challenges these years bring, some students find the various pressures of life unmanageable or unbearable. Many of these distressed students have not sought counseling and may be unaware of the services available to them.
You may encounter a friend in distress and your role could be a positive and crucial one in assisting him/her to find the resources available to help himself/herself. The following guidelines may be useful. (If you are a faculty or staff member, follow this link for information on how to help a distressed student: Resources for Faculty & Staff)
Common Signs of Distress
The following signs may indicate a need to refer a student to the Counseling & Testing Center:
The counseling staff a the Counseling & Testing Center can also assist students that are struggling with:
Suggested Guidelines For Interaction
Some suggested ways to recommend counseling are:
Feel free to use, amend, or expand on any of the recommendations above. The most important thing is to present your concern in such a way as to enable the student to freely accept, consider, or refuse your recommendation. Some people need time in order to think over the decision to seek counseling. A caring and gentle suggestion is usually enough. If a student says emphatically no, then it is important to respect and accept that decision and to perhaps leave the door open for alternative consideration. If a distressed student resists help and/or you are still worried, you may contact the Counseling & Testing Center to discuss your concerns and how to best assist him/her.
However, if you consider the situation to be an emergency, call Campus Safety (269-471-3321) or dial 911. Do not delay getting help for the student and making sure that you are both safe.
CONSULTATION WITH CENTER STAFF: ASK FOR A COUNSELOR
If you are unsure about how to respond to your friend, consult with one of the professional staff at the Counseling & Testing Center. A counselor can help you explore how to approach your friend, assist you in identifying campus and community resources that might fit his/her needs, and provide coaching on how to make a referral. Counselors are available during business hours for phone or in person consultations at the CTC. You can call the front desk (269-471-3470) to schedule a phone consult or to arrange a meeting at the counselor’s office.
MAKING A REFERRAL TO THE COUNSELING CENTER
WHAT IS COUNSELING?
"Professional counseling is the application of mental health, psychological or human development principles, through cognitive, affective, behavioral, or systemic interventions and strategies that address wellness, personal growth, or career development, as well as pathology" (American Counseling Association). Counseling is a collaborative effort between the counselor and client. A counselor can assist students to identify goals and potential solutions to problems which cause emotional imbalance, to improve communication and coping skills, to strengthen self-esteem, and to promote behavior change and optimal mental health. Together, a counselor and a student will set goals, work towards achieving them, and assess progress. Counseling can help students maximize their potential and make positive changes in their lives. Counseling may be hard work at times, but change and progress do happen. A counselor can provide the help and support to a student may need to master the challenges of life. We offer short-term individual and couples counseling. We also offer group counseling during the school year.
The three most frequent reasons people come to counseling are:
Most individuals who seek counseling are quite normal people who want to do something about their problems. Since EVERYONE has significant problems at various points in life, counseling can be a normal part of the process of coping with them and finding ways to move beyond them towards further growth and meaning in life.
Additional Campus and Community Resources to Consider:
Campus Safety: 269-471-3321
University Student Intervention Team (USIT): 269-471-3321; firstname.lastname@example.org
Dean for Student Life: 269-471-3215
Student Success Center: 269-471-6096
University Medical Specialties: 269-473-2222
Berrien County Victim Assistance: 269-982-8640
Neighbor to Neighbor (Adventist Community Services): 269-471-7411
Riverwood Center’s 24 Hour Crisis Hotline: 800-336-0341