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For Faculty & Staff

Faculty and staff are often the first to identify and respond to students who are struggling. It may be common for you to encounter students who are in emotional distress.

Expected and developmentally appropriate struggles include difficulty with major life transitions, losses, poor decision making, or problems with motivation. Appropriate responses to these situations will vary depending on the culture, life experiences, and unique needs of each student.  While for one student, responding with tears about a poor grade may be normal, for another student, it may be a sign of crisis.

Students may share very personal information and confide in you, both through your contact with them personally in the office or classroom, and through their academic work.  Although the majority of students will not utilize Counseling & Psychological Services or other campus services for support, you can serve to help identify students in need, and provide referrals and direct connection to campus resources.

If you feel a student is at immediate risk of harm, please do not hesitate to contact Public Safety at (585) 475-3333; Text: (585) 205-8333; http://rit.edu/publicsafety

FAQ

Plus IconHow do I make a referral to Counseling & Psychological Services (CaPS)?

You can encourage the student to come to the CaPS office and provide information about the location, phone number, how to make an appointment and any positive experiences you have had with Counseling & Psychological Services.  

It might also be helpful to assist the student in making the first contact with CaPS.  You could offer to assist by making the first call to schedule a counseling appointment together or you could escort the student to the Counseling & Psychological Services office in the August Center.      

If you are unsure of how or when to refer a student, you can always contact Counseling and Psychological Services for consultation (585) 475-2261.

Plus IconWhat can I expect after referring a student to Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS)?
  • Check in with the student later about whether they were connected with the appropriate resource.  Ask about their experience.  Offer to advocate for them if needed.  
  • Request consultation or follow-up from CaPS if you have questions. 
  • If the student follows through and attends an appointment at CaPS, the therapist meeting with them will encourage them to understand, sign and review consent forms that may allow us to speak with referral sources and other important supports in the student's life.  If the student signs a consent to speak with you, future collaboration about how to best support the student can take place. 
  • In some emergencies or urgent situations, a counselor may not require written consent by the student, and may consult with you for purpose of assessing and planning for the student's safety. 
Plus IconWhat is a mental health crisis?

Although the definition of crisis is different depending on the uniqueness of each individual, an emotional crisis is generally defined as an intense and painful response to a difficulty that exceeds the ability of the person to respond with their own healthy coping skills.  Responding to crisis is critical when the individual has experienced:   

  1. suicidal or homicidal thoughts or impulses;   
  2. sexual or physical assault;   
  3. hearing voices or otherwise misperceiving reality;   
  4. any major disruption in ability to function   
  5. experiencing an overwhelming loss or tragedy  
Plus IconHow can I address disruptive behavior in my classroom?

Although many instances of disruptive behavior in classrooms can be dealt with directly and quickly, disruptive behavior, such as violent, threatening, or insulting language or actions should be taken seriously. If even mild disruptive behavior is exhibited repeatedly by the same student,  contacting campus resources early and often may prevent safety issues. These campus resources such as Public Safety,  Student Behavioral Consultation Team, or  Counseling and Psychological Services are willing to listen and work with you.

Plus IconWhat is SBCT?

Student Behavior Consultation Team (SBCT)- (585)475-3963

https://www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/student-life/student-behavior-consultation-team-sbct

The Student Behavior Consultation Team (SBCT) assists students who may be in distress or experiencing challenging or difficult life circumstances. SBCT also provides consultation and intervention when students exhibit aggressive, concerning or disruptive behaviors.

Plus IconWhat to do if a student is having a “break down” or “panic attack"?
  1. Know that a panic attack is not dangerous. It cannot cause someone to pass out, have a heart attack or 'go crazy'. The process of calming down from a panic attack generally takes about 10-20 minutes.
  2. Stay with the student and stay calm.
  3. Ask the student what they need.
  4. Make sure the student is in a quiet place if at all possible.
  5. Speak to the student in brief, calming statements. "you can get through this, I am going to help you stay safe". "let's focus on taking one breath at a time".
  6. Help the student slow down breathing through controlled breathing that includes holding a deep breath for a few seconds before slowly releasing it and repeating the process numerous times; demonstrating deep breaths yourself and or by counting  or gesturing slowly from 1-10 while having the student focus or fixate on your face or fingers
  7. Offer to help the student get to resource they might need after they have calmed down.  You can offer to contact a friend or family member, or connect them with Counseling and Psychological Services
Plus IconWhat to do if a student is expressing thoughts of suicide?

In most cases, talking to the student and referring the student to Counseling & Psychological Services is the best option.  If you are concerned about the student's immediate safety, please contact Public Safety (585) 475-3333 or see Get Help Now.  

The following website includes suggestions for how to respond to a person who might express thoughts of suicide.   http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/whattodo.htm