Faculty Resources

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 distress or 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 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. We have psychologists and licensed mental health counselors that are 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.

In an emergency, or when a student displays threatening or potentially violent behavior, you, the students, and the welfare of the campus community are the top priorities. Contact campus police at 978.542.6111. You can complete the campus police threat assessment form here if you have a concern of a non-urgent nature regarding a particular individual. This form allows campus police to investigate and respond to your concerns. If a student's behavior raises concerns about a 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 [PDF]. These policies are implemented by the dean of students office. For more information, contact the dean of students office at 978.542.6401 or click here for the student concern website. The dean of students office and counseling and health services often work together in addressing disruptive behavior issues in a way that is fair to the student as well as focused on maintaining the safety and well-being of the University community.

How to Refer Students to Counseling

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 administrative assistant, and ask to speak with a counselor immediately about an urgent student issue.

Medical Excuse Policy

Counseling and Health Services has a policy to not provide written excuses to explain a student's absenteeism from classes or poor performance on examinations. This policy is consistent with our commitment to maintain patient confidentiality, encourage more appropriate use of health care resources, and support meaningful dialogue between teacher and student. Students are responsible to promptly notify instructors about absences caused by illness or injury.

A student who feels that their situation requires special consideration may set up an appointment to meet with their provider to discuss other options.