For Faculty and Staff
As you go about your workday, you may interact with students and/or community members who may be in distress or in need of crisis intervention. South Seattle College counselors will respond to faculty and staff who become aware of student crisis situations on campus and need someone to help with the resolution of a difficult situation.
What is a crisis?
A crisis is an emergency (non-medical) situation that requires immediate response for individuals experiencing social and emotional distress. Many students have difficulty asking for help. Instead, they will indicate or show signs that they are struggling.
Signs of distress might include the following:
- Significant decline in quality of work
- Repeated absence(s) from class
- Not handing in homework or assignments
- Coursework that is handed in expresses signs of anger, hopelessness, isolation, depression, or despair
- Inappropriate disruptions or verbalizations in class
- Lack of participation during in-class group activities
Psychological or Physical Signs
- Deterioration in physical presence or hygiene
- Constant irritability, anxiety, or tearful behavior
- Overt suicidal thoughts or behavior, such as referring to suicide as an option or manner of coping
- Unwarranted anger, hostility, or outbursts
- Significant changes in concentration or motivation
- Evidence of alcohol or other drug dependence or abuse
- Visible increases or decreases in weight
- Extreme fatigue or sleepiness in class
Additional Factors to Consider
- Candid statements indicating family problems, personal losses such as the death of a family member or the breakup of a significant relationship
- Expressions of concern about a student by peers, lab partners, or classmates
- Your sense that something is seriously amiss (no matter how vague this might be)
Helping a Distressed Student
The following recommendations can be used if a student approaches you with a problem and/or if you decide to approach a student about some of the signs listed above. Performing these steps in an understanding and respectful manner will make the process of providing assistance or making a referral more likely to succeed. Remember, though, that you are not a counselor. If in doubt about any student situation, please consult or make immediate referral to the counselors.
Privately talk to the student about your concerns
Provide the student with your undivided attention. A few minutes of your listening may be enough to assist the student in solving their own problem. Ask the student, if necessary, if they have ever discussed his or her concerns with a counselor. Encourage the student to make an appointment with one of the counselors, or, if time permits, walk the student over to the Robert Smith Building and assist with making the counseling appointment.
Express your concerns in nonjudgmental terms
Be direct and specific. For example, say something like “I have noticed that you have not been handing in your work lately and I am concerned,” rather than “Why have you not handed in your work?”
Listen to their thoughts and feelings in a sensitive, nonthreatening manner
By repeating or paraphrasing the essence of what the student has conveyed to you, you communicate empathy and understanding. Do your best to include both the feeling and content of what was told to you. For example, “It sounds like you are nervous about transferring to another college and you feel anxious about the future.”
Making a Referral
In your conversation with the student, suggest to them in a caring manner that they may benefit from meeting with a counselor. Below is some additional information to offer when making the referral:
- Sessions are confidential. This means that information about the student cannot be released to family, friends, faculty, or other offices without the student’s written permission. (There are limitations to this confidentiality which will be explained to the student in their first session).
- Counseling services are free to students.
- Counseling is located in the Student Services area of the Robert Smith Building, between registration and financial aid. The main phone number for counseling is (206) 934-6409. Please do not call a counselor's office directly. We are often busy with student appointments, so there is no guarantee that we will answer our phones.
- Please note that the hours of operation for counseling services are Monday-Friday, 8am -4pm.
- Counselors are also willing to walk over to another office or classroom to accompany a student back to the counseling area. We have the ability to deal with these emergencies and a procedure in place to free a counselor for such requests.
When to call Security
Call security at 206.934.0911 (5 a.m. – 10:30 p.m., Monday-Friday; variable hours on weekends)
- A student appears under the influence of drugs or alcohol and is combative or disruptive.
- A student is aggressive or uncontrollable.
- A student is threatening, abusive, or endangers the health or safety of any person on campus.
When to call (9) - 911
Call 911 when the situation:
- Is a life threatening emergency.
- Involves weapons.
- Is a serious medical incident.
- Always contact Campus Security to tell them that you phoned 911.