APPOINTMENTS AND CONSULTATION:
- I'm worried about a student and want him/her to go to the Counseling Center. How can I help them?
Explain your concerns directly and gently. It helps if you can cite specific examples about why you are concerned. Indicate that you would like them to go to the Counseling Center for an appointment and be ready with the address and phone number. You can ask them to try it out, and that there is very little risk in attending appointments. Additionally, you can accompany the student to a walk-in appointment at the Counseling Center. During normal business hours (8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.), there is always a provider available for urgent appointments.
- What if I'm concerned about a student, but I don't know how to talk to them or whether it is truly a problem?
You can call the Counseling Center (414-288-7172) at any time during normal business hours, and a staff member will assist you in how to talk to the student or assessing your situation. If there is an urgent question after-hours, you can call the Department of Public Safety at 414-288-6800 and ask to speak to the on-call counselor.
- I would like to talk to the Counseling Center about a concerning statement in a student's paper, but am worried about violating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which protects the confidentiality of student records. What should I do?
FERPA provides an exception for discussing safety concerns. Thus, if you are concerned that a student might hurt themselves or someone else based on a statement in a paper, you can disclose this information without penalty.
TALKING TO THE PROVIDERS:
- I'm worried about a student, and I want to know what is being discussed during the counseling sessions. Can I get this information?
Once a student is 18 years or older, the student has complete control of his/her medical records. Consequently, s/he need to give written permission to allow other people access to the information. If the student will not sign a release , it is illegal for the provider to discuss the case in any way. If you would like access to the student's information, the best approach is for you to discuss your reasoning with the student and ask them to sign the release of information.
- What if I just want confirmation that a student is attending appointments, but I don't want to know what is being discussed? Can I get confirmation that appointments are being attended?
Legally, a release of information needs to be signed to allow us to confirm appointment attendance, even if we do not discuss appointment details.
- What if I want to tell a provider something about a student, but I don't necessarily want to learn anything about what the student has said to the provider?
You are free to leave information with the on-call counselor or other provider whenever you would like to do so. However, the provider cannot share any information with you, including whether appointments have been scheduled or attended, without a release of information.
- A student told me verbally/through email/in a paper that they were considering suicide. What do I do?
A student considering suicide should always be taken seriously. Any student expressing thoughts of suicide needs to be assessed by a professional. Here's what you can do:
- Contact the Counseling Center and arrange for an immediate appointment with the on-call counselor.
- Either you or a trusted friend of the student should escort the student to the Counseling Center. We are located at 1324 W Wisconsin Avenue (Holthusen Hall, Room 204). The staff at the Counseling Center find it very helpful if we are called (414-288-7172) in advance of walking a student over for an unscheduled appointment.
- If it is after 4:30 p.m., contact the on-call counselor through the Department of Public Safety at 414-288-6800.
- If the student has written suicidal thoughts in paper or email, make every effort to contact the student and send them to the Counseling Center. If you are unable to reach the student and are concerned about imminent safety, contact Public Safety at 414-288-6800.
- If a student has attempted suicide, contact the Department of Public Safety.
- I feel threatened by a student. What do I do?
- Determine whether you are being threatened (e.g., "I'm going to get you.") or if you are feeling threatened. Sometimes, an angry student can make someone feel uncomfortable, but they are not necessarily going to do anything.
- If you are being or have been threatened with physical harm or being stalked by a student, call the Department of Public Safety at 414-288-6800. Inform your supervisor immediately of the situation and document what has occurred. Informing your supervisor corroborates your concern and brings more people into the situation. Documentation is important, as sometimes there are disputes as to what/how/when something was said.
- If you feel threatened (e.g., student is yelling, has hostile body language, is swearing at you)
- Directly state what your concern is: "You are swearing at me," or "You are being disrespectful."
- Tell the student what you want them to do: "I need you to calm down and stop using profanity."
- Set limits: "I need you to leave now."
- Tell the student that this type of behavior will not be tolerated in the future.
- Inform you Dean and document the encounter. Creating a paper trail helps support your case for further action in the future.
- If you feel threatened by a student of if you feel that a student is creating a disruptive atmosphere (even if there is no direct threat), you can inform the Behavior Review Committee (BRC). The BRC meets to discuss dangerous or disruptive students and to form an action plan. Please contact Dr. Jeff Janz at 414-288-7206 or the Dean of Student Development at 414-288-1412 to inform the BRC about a student of concern.
*Information taken from Helping Students in Distress: A Guide for Faculty and Staff, published by the Division of Student Affairs.