Faculty Resources

For Faculty or Staff Dealing with a Distressed Student

Any member of the Salem State community may encounter a student who is experiencing serious problems. Students may look to you for advice in a crisis, or share personal information that raises your concern. Sometimes, you may observe behavior that concerns you, although the student her/himself may appear unconcerned. Consultation is available to you through counseling and health services whenever you are unsure about how to handle a situation like this. Of course, in an emergency, contact campus police at ext. 6111. If the situation is not to that point, consider calling counseling and health services to help you decide how to proceed. We have psychologists and licensed mental health counselors experienced with these issues, and knowledgeable about the resources and procedures at Salem State. Call us at 978.542.6413 during business hours, and identify yourself as a faculty or staff member looking for consultation with a student issue. If the issue is urgent, state this when you call, so we can get you the help you need.

How to Refer

If you think a student would benefit from counseling, these guidelines may be helpful:

Speak with the student privately, and share your concern directly and concretely.

Share with the student your observation of the behavior that concerns you. Be specific.  

  • Frame your comments from the standpoint of concern for the student, or for the classroom environment, if that is an issue. Avoid comments that might sound judgmental to the student.

  • Offer the resources of counseling services; let them know how to make an appointment (call the office or walk in) and explain that counseling is confidential. If you feel that the situation warrants it, call counseling services with the student present (ext. 6410 or 6413) and let them make the appointment.

  • Assure the student that getting counseling is a sign of strength and maturity--that successful students take advantage of the service (they do!).  

  • Respect the student's right to reject the referral suggestion, or the need to take time to think about it, unless there is talk of suicide or an indication that the student may be a threat to others. Again, in a real emergency, call campus police. Otherwise, if suicide is a concern, call counseling services with the student present, identify yourself to the receptionist, and ask to speak with a counselor immediately about an urgent student issue.

  • If a student's behavior raises concern about possible risk to others, or significant classroom disruption, a different approach may be needed. Salem State has policies and procedures in place to respond to situations that may call for a mandated medical/psychological evaluation or other administrative action. These policies are implemented by the dean of student's office; for more information contact the dean at ext. 6401.