How and When to Refer a Student
The frequency and special nature of the interaction of university professionals and students sometimes puts university professionals in a position where they become readily aware of students' needs and struggles. Sometimes the kind of emotional help and support the student asks for can feel beyond the scope of what you, as a faculty/staff, feel you can help. We provide consultation to faculty/staff to help you respond to situations in which the mental health of a student is involved. Counselors will attempt to respond to requests for consultation as soon as daily schedules permit. When you call us, please tell the receptionist if you think the situation is an emergency that requires immediate attention.
When to refer:
Common concerns or issues that might indicate appropriateness of SCS services include:
- Reference to suicide
- All references to suicide need to be taken seriously. It is all right to ask directly, "Are you having thoughts about suicide?" If the student's response is affirmative, a call to consult with SCS is warranted. If a student talks about or alludes to details of how, when, and where of a suicidal plan, immediate consultation and referral is critical.
- Changes in mood/behavior
- Learning problems (may indicate underlying problems)
- Career concerns
- Retention issues
When you might not want to deal with it yourself:
- The problem feels too much for you to deal with
- You know the student in a non-professional way (friend, relative, neighbor)
- You don't feel you will be of help to them
- The student seems hesitant to talk with you about it
- The student asks for a referral
How to refer:
- Let the student know specifically what it is that you are concerned about
- Make it clear that your referral represents your best judgment about what would be of help to them
- Let them know what they could expect if they were to come in
- Let them know that they, of course, have the right not to take the referral
If they do agree to the referral:
- Have them call SCS to make the appointment or call with them present
- If they are unable to come in on their own, call the SCS for assistance
- It is good to follow up with the student to let them know that you are interested in how things are going (you don't have to pry)
- After the student's appointment, SCS cannot discuss their case with you without a release of information signed by the student
- If they do not agree to the referral and you are concerned for their safety, call SCS and consult with a staff member
What happens when they come in:
- Students will schedule an initial appointment, usually within the week (can do this same day if an emergency)
- Students will meet with a counselor to discuss the presenting issues, usually about one hour
- The counselor will help the student get connected with appropriate services
The Psychology Clinic, 513-529-2423, Psychology Building Room 39, Miami Univerisity, Oxford, OH 45056
The Psychology Clinic is located in the Department of Psychology. It is staffed by graduate students in Clinical Psychology who are all supervised by licensed psychologists who are faculty members in the Department of Psychology. The clinic offers individual psychotherapy and psychological assessments and occasionally offers other services such as couple therapy and group therapy. It is open from 8am-5pm, Monday through Friday.
The clinic operates during the Miami academic calendar and is closed for Winter Break, Spring Break and summer. The clinic does not have after hours coverage. A graduate student in clinical psychology is on call during operating hours primarily to service clinic clients.
During the day, there are emergency time slots for students in immediate need, and students can typically be seen that day. Simply call or have the student call SCS.
For emergencies outside of business hours, the Community and Counseling and Crisis Center (513-523-4146) has a 24-hour hotline. SCS provides an "on-call" service for psychological emergencies that occur on weekends and after normal university business workday hours. At these times, call the Miami University Police (529-2222). When you call, you will be asked for your name and phone number. These will be provided to the "on-call" counselor who will phone you to consult with you.
The Student Counseling Service provides consultation to faculty with respect to questions faculty may have about the mental health status of students—especially questions of dangerousness to self or others—based upon disturbing writings or other class products of students. A counselor may be reached by calling the SCS main number at 529-4634; a counselor will either take your call immediately or will call you back as soon as possible. If you believe it may be an emergency situation, let the secretary know this and a staff member will get back to you as soon as possible. You are also invited to e-mail the Director or other staff members. If there is a question of imminent danger, call University Police immediately at 529-2222.
There may be occasions when it is appropriate to obtain additional information about the student in question, or have him/her come to the SCS for evaluation. In such cases, the necessary steps will be taken to arrange this. In accordance with the requirements of confidentiality, it will not be possible for the SCS to reveal any clinical data that may exist regarding the student - or even if the student is a client. We will, however, consult with you and provide some suggestions for follow-up.
The central question will be to determine if the student's expressions are evidence of severe mental illness, if the student is a danger to self or others, or if some type of treatment or intervention is warranted. Whenever appropriate, the SCS will work closely and consult with the Dean of Students and University Police.
Such consultations and/or assessments sometimes reveal the existence of an emotional problem. At other times, however, we have found that some students were unaware that they had created a problem for others, or were unintentionally violating cultural or social norms. Irrespective of the student's understanding of the impact their work has on others, it is important and appropriate to evaluate aberrant or potentially dangerous student expression and, if necessary, intervene.
Some Suggestions on How to Respond: While at times the worst response is no response, in most cases you do not need to respond immediately to e-mail, notes, or calls from the student if you do not feel comfortable doing so. It is suggested that you consult with your department chair, Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution (529-1417), or Student Counseling Service before responding to the student. Often faculty or teaching assistants respond to students in an enabling way, sometimes in an effort to let the student down easy. It is recommended that you refrain from making promises, commitments or personal comments in your response to the student.
If the appropriate opportunity presents itself, you should express your concern about the content of the work to the student. It is important to be as clear and specific as possible about your concern and what it is that has led to your concern. You might suggest to the student that you would like to delay grading the assignment until you and the student can discuss things further - this also provides you with time to consult as necessary. The reaction of the student to this form of intervention may elucidate the nature of the student's motivation and increase their awareness of the behavior. It will also help you determine if the student was merely acting sensationally, immaturely, or was merely unaware or insensitive to appropriate socio-cultural or university norms.
Keep copies of all communication with the student. Factual feedback to the student will depend on having an accurate record of agreements, comments, e-mails, etc.
Last Updated: 06/03/2013
Contact: Tonia Farthing, Administrative Assistant