Students writing encouraging messages on field of memories flags.

Helping Others

How do I recognize a student in distress?
Serious academic fallout.
Falling grades, sudden class absences without explanation and/or loss of motivation or investment in school.

Exaggerated emotional response.
Angry outbursts, sudden tearfulness or giddiness.

Withdrawal from relationships.
Withdrawal from friends or sources of social support or a sudden over-dependence on people.

Disruptive behavior.
Aggressiveness, violating others' rights with little provocation.

Persistent depression.
Crying, low energy, irritability, decline in personal appearance, helplessness/hopelessness, loss of control and/or emotional flatness.

Marked increase in physical complaints.
Headaches, indigestion, nausea, stomach pains and/or loss or gain in weight.

Increased reliance on alcohol or drugs.
How do I talk with a distressed student?
Listen: Listening is an important part of support.

Empathize: Understanding from another's perspective is often helpful.

Normalize: Feeling overwhelmed and stressed out are common aspects of college life.

Set limits on your role: Set comfortable limits for yourself when the support you provide doesn't feel like enough. That is the time to refer.

De-stigmatize CAPS: Help take the anxiety out of seeking help. CAPS is here for the students because college is a time for growth and development, which can sometimes be difficult.
When should I refer a student to CAPS?
  • The student's struggles leave you feeling helpless.
  • Your best efforts are not adequate support for the student.
  • You may feel unable or uncomfortable with providing extensive support.
  • You feel like you have reached your limit or have exhausted your ideas on how to help.
  • You have doubts as to what may help the student.
  • You feel increasingly anxious and pre-occupied about the student's struggle.
  • You feel angry or intimidated by the student's comments or behavior.
  • You are spending large amounts of time on the student's issues.
  • The student's issues are too close to home for you, making it hard to get and keep perspective.
What are some tips for referring a student to CAPS?
  • Share with the student your interest in them and in their well-being.
  • The choice to seek professional guidance is usually up to the individual.
  • Outline for the student what they might expect when they meet with a therapist at CAPS.
  • Give the student the option to call CAPS from your office.
  • Ask the student if he or she would like you to make the call to CAPS while they are with you or if you can accompany them to the CAPS office, if you are willing.
  • Refer to a person, not just to CAPS. If you can, provide the student a name of someone specific at CAPS to talk with.
  • Referring to CAPS can help the student begin to help him or herself.
What should I let students know about CAPS?

  • Information shared by the student with a CAPS therapist is confidential.
  • Visits to CAPS are not recorded on academic transcripts.
  • Students who use CAPS are interested in their personal growth and adjustment in the world around them.
  • Students face normal developmental concerns and academic pressures. At times, they may feel anxious, angry, lonely or depressed.
  • Getting help is not a sign of weakness.
  • There is no charge for initial consultation appointments. CAPS works in a time-limited therapy model and the number of sessions a student needs is discussed between the student and the therapist.
  • Group therapy is available at no charge to students.
  • Emergency on-call therapists are available daily.