Helping Students in Distress

Students are likely to seek initial assistance from faculty and staff, especially if you are available and willing to listen. If a student needs additional support, please submit a referral so that counselors can meet with students and provide the help they need.

Identifying a Student in Distress

Signs that a student may be in distress include:

  • Marked decline in quality of course work, class participation, quality of papers or test results
  • Increased absence from class or failure to turn in work
  • Chronic fatigue and low energy
  • Attention and memory difficulties
  • Low self-esteem and prolonged depression
  • Nervousness, agitation, excessive worry, irritability and sudden outbursts of anger, threats of harming others, aggressiveness, or nonstop talking
  • Abrupt or radical changes in behavior or bizarre behavior, speech, writing, or thinking
  • Abnormal eating or exercise behaviors
  • Alcohol and other drug abuse
  • Isolation from others
  • Extreme dependency on faculty, staff, or community leader including spending much of his/her spare time visiting during office hours or at other times
  • Marked change in personal hygiene
  • Talk of suicide, either directly or indirectly, such as, “I won’t be around to take that exam anyway” or “I’m not worried about getting a job, I won’t need one.”

Helping a Distressed Student

If a student approaches you with a problem or if you notice any of the above warning signs, speak to the student in private and state your reasons for concern. Ask questions, listen carefully, and ask how you can help without criticizing or imposing judgment. Suggest the Counseling Center and emphasize that it is completely confidential. If a student needs more help than you can provide, consult with a counselor or make a referral.

Making a Referral

If a student is experiencing any of the following, a faculty or staff member should make a referral:
Social or personal concerns
Career choices or selecting a major
Stress, depression or general anxiety
Family and financial issues
Identity development/individuation
Substance abuse
Sexual assault
Relationship concerns
Racial or cultural adjustments
Academic difficulties or test anxiety
Grief or loss (including romantic breakups)

Submit a Referral

Note: All counseling sessions are confidential. Student information cannot be released to family, friends, faculty, or other offices without the student’s written permission. There are limitations to this confidentiality which will be explained to the student in the initial counseling session.

Counseling records are kept separate from academic records and are protected by law. Services are free to FTCC students.

Additional Treatment

If a student has long-term counseling needs or a problem that requires special treatment, that student will be referred to appropriate agencies as needed. The College’s Student Assistance Program (SAP) is aimed at the early treatment of problems such as family, marital, or financial difficulties, and may even involve alcohol or drug abuse. Complete the referral form and return to

FTCC is committed to helping students in crisis. If you have an emergency, please call one of the appropriate help line numbers.