Referring Student or Resident

Are you concerned about a student or resident?

There are a variety of behaviors that may indicate that an individual is in distress. These behaviors include:

  • Avoidance of classroom or clinical participation.
  • Domination of discussions.
  • Excessive anxiety when called upon.
  • Exaggerated emotional responses inappropriate to the situation.
  • Sudden changes in known behavior (attendance, grades, or attention changes).
  • Depressed or lethargic mood.
  • Hyperactivity or very rapid speech.
  • Unexplained crying, irritability or angry outbursts.
  • Changes in personal hygiene or dress.
  • Dramatic weight loss or gain.
  • Strange or bizarre behavior indicating loss of contact with reality.
  • Expression of thoughts of helplessness or hopelessness.
  • Overt references to suicidal and homicidal threats.

How can you help?

Be aware that there is a prescribed formula for interacting with a student in distress. Be aware of your personal limits as a helper. It is important to be mindful that there are times when effectively listening, encouraging, and empathizing helps an individual feel cared about and more confident in their ability to make decisions during stressful times.

Here are some suggestions that might assist you when interacting with a distressed student:

  • Approach the student respectfully and ask to speak in private when both of you have the time.
  • Provide the student your undivided attention.
  • Listen to thoughts and feelings in a sensitive, non-threatening way.
  • If you have initiated contact with the student, express your concern in behavioral, non-judgmental terms (For example, “I've noticed you've been absent from class lately, and I'm concerned.”)
  • Communicate that you understand by repeating the essence of what the student has told you. Try to include both content and feelings (For example, “It sounds like you're not accustomed to such a demanding schedule, and you're feeling challenged to manage it all.”)
  • Strange or inappropriate behavior should not be ignored. Comment directly about what you have observed.
  • Do not discuss your concerns with other students.

When to refer to the SSC

Circumstances may indicate that a referral is necessary. Ask yourself the following:

  • Is the problem more serious than you feel comfortable handling?
  • Have you helped as much as you can and further assistance is needed?
  • Do you think your personal feelings about the student will interfere with your objectivity?
  • Has the student admitted that there is a problem but does not want to talk to you about it?
  • Has the student asked for information or assistance that you are unable to provide?

How to refer to the SSC

When faculty or staff members decide to refer a student or resident to the SSC, we recommend the following:

  • Speak to the individual in a direct, straightforward manner in which concern for their welfare is demonstrated.
  • Be clear that this referral is based on observations of the individual’s behaviors.
  • Students and residents should make their own appointments, if possible. However, you may assist this process by walking the individual over to the SSC during our regular business hours (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday - Friday).

If the individual is not willing to accept referral to the SSC, you then can forward an email to the AVP for Student Services (for students) or to the Associate Dean for GME (for residents) to share your concern [insert Maxient concern form links when complete].

Confidentiality of Services:

Please remember that all SSC contacts with students and residents are confidential. Information about SSC client contacts cannot be released except under specific circumstances. The TTUHSC El Paso Student Support Center strictly adheres to this policy, which is in accordance with Texas state law.

If you are wondering about the student's follow-through with the referral, we recommend that you contact the student directly. You are welcome to share information regarding a student with SCC staff. However, SCC staff must abide by the above guidelines and will not be able to respond without the student's consent.

The Student Support Center, in some cases, may be able to provide letters regarding disability-related academic or accessibility accommodations. Students should direct all accommodation requests to the Academic Success and Accessibility Office (ASAO) for approval and implementation.