Helping Students in Distress

It is not uncommon for students at North Idaho College to struggle with the demands of school, work, and their personal lives. Sometimes these struggles distress students so much it threatens their success and some form of helpful intervention may be important. If you become aware that a student is in need of help consider the following.

  1. Listen carefully to the student's concern and try to see the issue from his/her point of view without necessarily agreeing or disagreeing.
  2. Attempt to clarify the student's problem and explore alternatives to solve the problem.
  3. Ask the student what he/she expects from you and be clear about what you are and are not willing to do in the situation.

When to Make a Referral to Counseling Services

In your efforts to be helpful you may recognize that the student’s dilemma may be more appropriately handled by a professional counselor. Referral to Counseling Services may be indicated when:

  • A student is experiencing a personal crisis (relationship problems, family problems, etc.)
  • A student appears under emotional stress, or turmoil, or is withdrawn.
  • A student is achieving less than indicated abilities would predict.
  • A student seems to have little direction or purpose, seems to be just going through the motions of the college experience, or is apathetic about his/her college work.
  • A student frequently exhibits attention-getting behavior, overreacts to situations, or is insecure and overcompensates in social situations.
  • A student appears to be performing poorly due to possible test anxiety.
  • A student who normally attends class regularly suddenly begins missing classes.
  • A student makes references to suicide or wishing to be dead or expresses a wish to harm others.
  • A student appears to be having difficulties due to substance abuse.

How to Refer

Communicate to the student your desire to help, and one of the best ways you can help is by creating a connection for them with counseling. Provide them with the information needed to schedule an appointment. After a short time, follow up to make sure the student has seen a counselor. If the student is apprehensive or reluctant, offer to make the initial contact for them, and even make the phone call in their presence. Sometimes it may even be beneficial to escort them to Counseling Services in order to assure a connection is made and to acquaint the student with the facilities and staff.