Worried About a Student?

Parents, friends, faculty, staff, or concerned others may contact Counseling Services at (336) 278-7280 during business hours for information on how we might be helpful to your student. We will be happy to discuss our services with you and provide some tips on how to encourage a student to make an appointment.

Tips for Recognizing a Student in Distress

The following are indications that a student may be experiencing significant emotional distress:

Academic Indicators

  • Failure to do assigned work or poorly prepared work, especially if inconsistent with previous work
  • Excessive absence or tardiness
  • Marked inattentiveness or sleepiness in class
  • Signs of intoxication during class, at work or other inappropriate times

Psychological or Physical Indicators

  • Noticeable change in personality
  • Deterioration in personal hygiene
  • Frequent crying
  • Dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Alcohol and/or other drug use or abuse
  • Listless, lethargic, "depressed" appearance
  • Noticeable anxiety or panic
  • Impaired speech and disjointed thoughts
  • Bizarre behavior that is obviously inappropriate for the situation (e.g., talking to something/someone that is not present)
  • Frequent or high levels of irritable, unruly, abrasive, or aggressive behavior
  • Self-injurious behavior (e.g., cutting, burning)
  • Direct or indirect reference to suicide, preoccupation with death and morbid subjects

Interpersonal Indicators

  • Social withdrawal
  • Threats to others
  • Concerns expressed by peers, faculty, staff, or others

How to Help

A student who is distressed might not be aware of services or may be reluctant to seek them. You can make a critical difference by talking with the student about your concerns in a caring manner. Whether you reach out to a student because you’ve noticed some signs of distress or the student approaches you directly, here are some suggestions for how to respond to a student in distress.

Talk to the student in a private setting when you both have time and are not rushed. Just a few minutes of active listening may help the student feel cared about and more confident about what to do.

Be direct with expressing your concerns in behavioral, non-judgmental terms. For example, I’ve noticed you’ve been absent from class a lot” or “You’ve been crying a lot lately and it looks like you have lost some weight – I’m concerned about you.”

Listen  to the student. Silence or crying are ok. Don’t feel as though you need to be an expert or offer a solution. Seek to understand what they are sharing. Avoid too many questions and acknowledge the student’s distress -"I understand that you're angry," or "I hear that you have concerns that you'd like addressed."

Give hope that things can get better. Let the student know that you're going to do what is within your limits in order to help address their concern (e.g., "Let's work together to figure out a solution," or "If I can't come to a solution that works for both of us, I'll do my best to find someone who can help us out.").

Refer to Counseling Services, 336-278-7280 and/or Student Concerns Outreach, 336-278-7200. It may be helpful to point out that seeking help is a sign of strength and to normalize the counseling process. 10% of the Elon student body utilizes Counseling Services each year.

Consult with campus resources. You don’t need to try to help a student alone. If a student is not receptive to seeking services and you continue to be concerned, you may submit an online student concerns report. The information you provide will be shared with the Student Concerns and Threat Assessment Team and may be used to help link a student with resources and/or respond if a student’s behavior is creating an unhealthy or unsafe situation for themselves or others. You may also contact Student Concerns Outreach, 336-278-7200 or Counseling Services, 336-278-7280 to consult about how to proceed.

Follow-up  with the student later to see whether or not they followed your referral recommendation and to see how they are doing. Please note that due to confidentiality, Counseling Services staff cannot verify if a student has accessed our services without their written consent.

What to Do in an Emergency

All emergencies (medical, psychological, police) should be directed to 9-1-1 FIRST. Once emergency assistance has been dispatched, Campus Safety Dispatchers will then notify the Student Life Emergency Response System for follow-up.

Resources and Contact Information

Campus Safety and Police (336) 278-5555
Student Life Emergency Response System* (336) 278-5555
Student Concerns Outreach (336) 278-7200 (M-F, 8am-5pm)
Counseling Services** (336) 278-7280 (M-F, 8am-5pm)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255 (TALK)
National Suicide Lifeline Chatchat.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Cone Health Behavioral Health Hospital (Greensboro) 24-hour HelpLine (336) 832-9700 or (800) 711-2635

*The Student Life Emergency Response System is activated through Campus Safety and Police Dispatch and includes the Counselor on Call, Administrator on Call, Senior Administrator on Call, and Safeline Violence Response.

**For crisis assistance after hours and on weekends contact the Counselor on Call via Campus Safety and Police at (336) 278-5555.