guide for faculty, staff and parents

The college years are a time of tremendous growth and change. It is common for students to feel overwhelmed, stressed out, anxious, or even depressed on occasion. While these feelings are often resolved without assistance, they can sometimes worsen to the extent that the student’s daily life functioning is severely impaired.

Faculty, staff, and parents are often the first to recognize signs of distressing personal situations in their students’ lives. If you become concerned about the emotional health of your student, you may wish to talk with him or her about the Counseling Services that exist at SFAI.

The following information is designed to assist you in assessing difficult situations and offer some specific ideas about what to do when faced with a troubled student.

Signs indicating that a student may need help:

  • Increased irritability, aggressive or abusive behavior
  • Marked change in personal hygiene
  • Excessive procrastination, poorly prepared work
  • Infrequent or erratic class attendance
  • Agitation, impaired speech
  • Reactive mood or excessive emotionality
  • Change in classroom participation
  • Appearance of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Preoccupation, inability to focus on class discussions or activities
  • Tendency to isolate self or shun contact
  • Inability to perform complex tasks or follow instructions on assignments or examinations
  • Dependency, neediness
  • Lack of energy, falling asleep in class

How you can help:

  • Gently confront the student in private if you sense that he or she is in distress.
  • Listen carefully; try to understand the issue from the student’s point of view and remain unbiased.
  • When communicating your own concerns to the student, focus on and describe any specific behaviors that cause you concern, noting their magnitude and duration.
  • Oftentimes, students will see “counseling” as something only for those with very serious problems. Reassure them that adjustment to college is a very common problem for many students.
  • Sometimes students may desire support in connecting with Counseling Services. You may encourage the student to call us from your office at 415.749.4587 or accompany the student to our office in Room 103 located at the end of the hall in the Maintenance Hall.

Download a Guide to Working With Students in Distress.