Faculty and Staff as Helping Resources for Student
University students typically experience a wide range of stressors/issues (e.g., academic, family, social, developmental, financial, work) during their time at the University of Illinois. Academic advisors, faculty, staff, teaching assistants, resident hall personnel, and others, by virtue of the frequency and nature of their contacts with students and the respect students have for them, are often seen by students as more logical first contacts for advice and support. More importantly, you are often one of the first and sometimes the only people who recognize that students are not functioning well, academically or personally. Hopefully, the information on this webpage will assist you in handling students who may be in need of mental health services.
Recognizing Troubled Students
Often times it is very easy to identify students who are struggling and sometimes their distress is hidden. Here are some obvious and not so obvious signs of distress to look for:
- Academic Performance
- Drop in class attendance
- Incapacitating test anxiety
- Pattern of dropping classes
- Poor academic performance
- Severe reactions to poor test/paper grade
- Unrealistic career goals
- Chronic indecisiveness or procrastination
- Academic probation
- Poor study, reading, and/or comprehension skills
- Academic dismissal
- Excessive appointments to see you during office hours
- Frequent requests for accommodations
- Unusual Behavior
- Disruptive class behavior
- Aggressive/threatening behavior
- Dramatic weight change
- Prolonged or extreme emotionality
- Significant decline in personal hygiene
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Inappropriate or bizarre conversation
- Self-injurious behavior
- Life-Circumstance Concerns
- Life Circumstance Concerns
- Death or serious illness of family member or friend
- Illness (loss of health)
- Relationship breakup
- Parents’ divorce
- Coming as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender
- Cultural oppression/discrimination
- Difficulty making and keeping friends
- Problems with roommates
- Severe homesickness
- References to Suicide or Homicide
- Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness
- Homicidal threats
- Preoccupation with death
- Giving away valued possessions
- Isolation from others
- Thoughts or threats of suicide or plans for suicide
- Physical threats to others
- Other Common Concerns
Although these signs and symptoms may serve as warning signs that a student is in distress, most by themselves do not necessarily mean that a student has a serious problem that warrants psychological help. (References to suicide or homicide are obvious exceptions). In general, the more of these behaviors you observe, the more cause there is for concern, particularly if these behaviors persist over a period of time. These are signals that suggest you should consider expressing your concern to the student and possibly referring them to mental health services.
Referral may be made to mental health professionals, deans, housing personnel, academic advisers, and the like. When you are faced with a student whom you feel you cannot help, for whatever reason, it is helpful to know about the campus resources so that you can make appropriate referrals. If you are referring students for professional counseling, knowing the services of the counseling center will help you. If you are unsure about the services of the Counseling Center or would like to consult about a particular student, please feel free to contact the center.
The Counseling Center and the McKinley Mental Health Department collaborate with the Champaign County Mental Health Center to provide the University with emergency services for psychological matters. Psychological Emergency Services are available 24 hours a day and focuses on problems that need to be addressed immediately.
If the emergency occurs during the day, call the Counseling Center at 217-333-3704 or the McKinley Mental Health Department at 217-333-2705 to arrange the appropriate appointment or gathering of information. When contacting either department, it will be helpful to declare this is an emergency and that the student needs to be seen right away.
If the emergency occurs after business hours or the student won’t see a counselor, can’t be found, or refuses contact with others, call the Crisis Line at 217-359-4141 (TTY: 217-352-4217) and you will get a consultation with a mental health professional.
Location: Room 206, Student Services Building 610 East John Street, Champaign, IL
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
Appointment: Scheduled for same day, recommend calling at 7:50 a.m.
McKinley Mental Health
Location: 3rd Floor McKinley Health Center 1109 South Lincoln, Urbana, IL
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
Appointment: Scheduled in advance.