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Counseling Center Resources for Faculty & Staff

Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Training Presentation



How to identify students in distress:

Students often seek help from faculty and staff when they are in need. Below are some guidelines on identifying students in distress and ways you can help.

Taken from Virginia Tech's Cook Counseling Center.

The following could be signs of a student in distress:

  • Excessive procrastination and very poorly prepared work, especially if inconsistent with previous work.
  • Infrequent class attendance with little or no work completed.
  • Dependency (e.g., the student who hangs around or makes excessive appointments during office hours).
  • Listlessness, lack of energy, or frequently falling asleep in class.
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene.
  • Impaired speech and disjointed thoughts.
  • Repeated requests for special consideration (e.g., deadline extensions).
  • Threats to others.
  • Expressed suicidal thoughts (e.g., referring to suicide as a current option).
  • Excessive weight gain or loss.
  • Behavior which regularly interferes with effective class management.
  • Frequent or high levels of irritable, unruly, abrasive, or aggressive behavior.
  • Unable to make decisions despite your repeated efforts to clarify or encourage.
  • Bizarre behavior that is obviously inappropriate for the situation (e.g., talking to something/someone that is not present).
  • Students who appear overly nervous, tense or tearful. 


Here's How Faculty/Staff Can Help

Faculty guide for student behavior

  • Speak with the student in private.
  • Express concern. Be as specific as possible in stating your observations and reasons for concern.
  • Listen carefully to everything the student says.
  • Repeat the essence of what the student has told you so your attempts to understand are communicated.
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
  • Assess the situation and determine if the student may benefit from meeting with a Counselor. If so, refer the student to Counseling Services.


How to Make a Referral to Counseling and Disability Services

  • If you are concerned about a student, please contact Counseling and Disability Services so that staff may reach out to the student.
  • Encourage the student to call or visit our office to make an appointment. Provide the student with Counseling and Disability Services contact information. If a student approaches you and expresses concern, you are welcome to contact our office with the student present. However, the student is responsible for scheduling an appointment withCounseling and Disability Services directly.  Faculty or staff may not schedule an appointment for the student.
  • If you feel the situation is an emergency, please contact Counseling and Disability Services immediately. In a crisis situation, it may be helpful to escort the student to our office.


Accessibility Resources for Faculty and Staff