Our faculty and staff are essential in providing students with a holistic and supportive educational experience. This can go beyond academic support, especially if you notice a student may be going through a difficult time.
Many students face various challenges during their academic journey, including mental health issues, hospitalization, a family emergency or financial concerns. Each of these challenges can be unexpected and may negatively impact their academic success.
If this is the case, Student Support & Case Management (SSCM) is available to provide individualized support to students. SSCM case managers connect students with campus partners, community resources and support systems, while also building a trusting relationship and coaching them toward self-advocacy. SSCM can even help students after unexpected financial challenges, recover from physical or mental health emergencies, travel to support their loved ones in need and purchase necessities.
The first step to getting students that assistance is by recognizing they need help, and then referring them to SSCM. Here’s how.
Learn to recognize signs of distress
Faculty and staff can learn to recognize if a student is experiencing a difficult situation by watching for signs of distress. These can be academic, physical, psychological or safety risk concerns. Some common signs to be aware of are below.
- Sudden decline in quality of work and grades
- Disturbing content in writing or presentations
- Classroom disruptions
- Consistently seeking personal rather than professional advice
- Multiple requests for extensions or special considerations (a change from prior functioning)
- Doesn't respond to repeated requests for contact or meetings
- Academic assignments dominated by themes of extreme hopelessness, helplessness, isolation, rage, despair, violence or self-harm
- Marked changes in physical appearance like poor grooming or hygiene or sudden changes in weight
- Strange or bizarre behavior indicating loss of contact with reality
- Visibly intoxicated or smelling of alcohol or marijuana
- Rapid speech or manic behavior
- Depressed or lethargic mood or functioning
- Observable signs of injury like facial bruising or cuts
- Self-disclosure of personal distress like family problems, financial difficulties, assault, discrimination or legal difficulties
- Unusual or disproportionate emotional response to events
- Excessive tearfulness, panic reactions
- Verbal abuse like taunting, badgering or intimidation
- Expression of concern about the student by peers
- Verbal, written or implied references to suicide, homicide, assault or self-harm behavior
- Unprovoked anger or hostility
- Physical violence like shoving, grabbing, assaulting or use of a weapon
- Stalking or harassing
- Communicating threats or disturbing comments in person or via email, text or phone call
Initiate a compassionate conversation
When noticing changes in students or sensing they may be struggling, it's normal to feel anxious about addressing your concerns directly with the student. However, faculty and staff can be the first people to notice these changes. Taking the time to talk with the student may increase the chances of the student getting help.
You can start by making a connection with the student. Initiate the dialogue privately during office hours or other scheduled meetings. Convey that you are concerned, and that you care about their well-being. Ask open, inviting questions that do not suggest a problem or solution, and take your time to listen to the student’s concerns.
Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution provides resources to learn about healthy dialogue. Visit their webpage for more tips, trainings and presentations.
Refer the student to Student Support & Case Management
Anyone can refer a student to SSCM. There are three ways to do so:
- Fill out the online referral form.
- Call SSCM at 303-492-7348.
- Email the department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SSCM supports students with varying extenuating circumstances, needs or personal life events that may impact their educational career. Some of the more common reasons to refer a student to SSCM include, but are not limited to:
- Concern for a student’s mental health
- Hospitalization (physical or mental health)
- Suicidal ideation
- Harm to self or others
- Loss of a loved one
- Family emergency
- Food insecurity
- Housing insecurity
- Financial concerns
- Threatening behavior
If you are unsure whether to refer a student, faculty and staff are encouraged to contact SSCM for guidance. And in addition to SSCM, CU Boulder provides a wide range of campus resources for students facing challenges. Offering students access to the help they need can be a pivotal step toward their success and well-being.
All staff in Student Support & Case Management are mandated reporters. In addition to referring a student to resources, any instances of sexual misconduct, intimate partner abuse (including dating and domestic violence), stalking, protected-class discrimination or harassment, or related retaliation must be reported to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC).
There may also be times that a student comes to you with a need to speak confidentially or hypothetically about sexual misconduct, intimate partner abuse, stalking, discrimination or harassment. If a student needs to speak with a confidential resource and wants help processing any related trauma, they can be referred to the Office of Victim Assistance (OVA) at 303-492-8855.
For questions regarding these issues or the obligation to report, please contact OIEC at 303-492-2127.