Health Center: Faculty/Staff FAQs
Counselors and Nurse Practitioners are available during business hours 8:30am-4:30pm to consult with faculty/staff who have questions about how to assist students with emotional or medical issues. Residence Life staff may also be able to help you if the problem involves their living situation, peers, or conduct problems. If your son or daughter is in need of immediate emergency assistance, appropriate law enforcement or hospital emergency personal should be contacted.
In order to disclose any information about a student’s counseling, the student must provide written consent that they are waving their right to confidentiality and that they authorize communication between a third party and their counselor. It would be illegal and unethical for any counselor to disclose any type of information regarding a student’s treatment without their consent.
In cases, when a student is in immanent risk of harming themselves or others the counseling center will take steps to attempt to protect the student and others by communicating with the appropriate law enforcement and/or hospital emergency staff. In these rare cases, a written consent waving the right to confidentiality is not required.
Students present with a range of issues related to normal development. Some of these issues involve dating or relationship concerns, difficulties adjusting to college, career confusion, grief and loss, sexual identity concerns, religious or faith based concerns, or family difficulties.
Other students present with more specific mental health problems which involve eating disorders, sleep difficulties, depression, anxiety, and/or substance abuse.
It is not uncommon for students to be a little unsure about the reasons for their unhappiness. In these cases counselors work with students to help them identify the underlying problem that are causing their distress and assist them in resolving their distressing symptoms (sleep problems, depression, anxiety).
While it is very painful and worrisome to see a student refuse help, neither parents nor the University can make decisions for a student and counseling is always a personal choice. If a student is refusing help, we encourage you to consult with a counselor at the Health Center to see if there is a way that you could encourage that student to get the help that they need.
Some students worry that the information that they share in counseling will be shared with other students, professors, or coaches. It is essential that students understand that the Health Center respect students’ legal and ethical right to confidentiality. Any information shared by the student is kept confidential and can not be shared with parents, faculty, coaches, or friends, without written permission from the student or in situations where there is clear or imminent danger to self or others.
In some cases students worry that coming to the Health Center for counseling requires a commitment to a certain number of sessions. These students may be relieved to find out that they can choose to speak to a counselor on a one-time basis. Students do not need to make a commitment to ongoing therapy.
Students are asked to call the Health Center to schedule first time appointments. Appointments can be scheduled with nurse practitioners for medical concerns, a pastoral counselor for spiritual or religious concerns or questions, a counselor for emotional issues, and/or a learning assistance counselor for support with academic and learning concerns. The Health Center is available to respond to psychological emergencies between the 8:30am and 4:30pm everyday. If a student is experiencing a psychological emergency, they should call the Health Center promptly for an immediate appointment.
Once students schedule their appointments, they are sent a set of Health Center forms to complete and bring into their appointment. The Health Center professional will evaluate the nature and severity of their concerns and together the student will develop a course of action.
Some students quickly adjust to college life, while other students have a rockier and longer period of adjustment. It is not abnormal for a student to experience some tension or stress related to living in a dorm, developing new friends, or being exposed to new academic pressures. Being in a new environment may also be stressful because students are surrounded by people that are new and unfamiliar (different ethnic, religious, economic background). All students experience these types of stressors at some point during college. While these challenges may make some students stressed out, these challenges will also help them develop the skills necessary to navigate through the adult world and will increase their confidence in their ability to cope with adversity or setbacks.
During these times it may be tempting to offer advice or try to fix the problem for them. However, we encourage others to refrain from these behaviors unless their circumstances are extreme.
It may be helpful to brainstorm with them how they can go about getting support. Many students find it helpful to talk with their Resident Assistants or a priest on campus about roommate problems. Other students find it helpful to meet with a mental health professional at the counseling center to talk about their concerns.
If you begin to recognize more severe symptoms such as depressed mood, suicide ideation, drug use, social isolation, loss of weight, or persistent problems with grades, encourage the student to set up an appointment with a psychologist at the University Health Center. You may also call the University Health Center yourself and consult with a counselor about your concerns.
It is not uncommon for students who are feeling overwhelmed, to turn to others on campus for help and advice. You may be able to offer reassurance but may feel like the student needs further assistance. At these points, it may be helpful to consult with a counselor at the health center about the problem. Health Center staff understand that faculty and staff play a critical role in students’ college success and want to support faculty and staff.
When you have conversations with a student ask them to talk to you about what life is like for them at the University and listen without giving advice or solutions. If you observe that a student has been missing classes, is socially withdrawn, is crying more frequently, has lost motivation, is having difficulty with anger management or substance use, or doesn’t seem to be happy anymore, it is a good idea to talk with that student about your concerns and refer them to the University Health Center for counseling. Generally it is recommended that you refer a student for counseling if their academic, social, or work functioning have become impaired.
Eating Disorders are a very serious mental health problem that impact all areas of a student’s life (academic, social, spiritual, family) and can lead to severe physical and psychological impairments. It is recommended that you call the Health Center and consult with a counselor if you have concerns that a student might have an Eating Disorder. A counselor can talk to you about Eating Disorder warning signs and help you decide whether a student’s symptoms warrant an Eating Disorder evaluation. Depending on the nature of the eating disorder symptoms, the counselor may recommend that a student receive an evaluation at the Health Center or at an Eating Disorder Treatment Center in the community.
Young adulthood is a period in time where many student’s experiment with new behaviors and activities. Some students begin to experiment with alcohol and/or other drugs for the first time during college, while other students bring substance dependence and abuse issues with them to college. Some signs that a student’s drinking or drug use is a problem may include: health problems, a drop in academic functioning, problems with work (e.g., absences and poor performance), an impairment in social functioning (e.g., fights, loss of friends, social isolation), and legal/judicial problems on or off campus. If you notice that a student is exhibiting these difficulties, this may be a sign that they have shifted from normal developmental experimentation with alcohol or drugs to alcohol or drug abuse or dependency. If you have questions about how to approach a student with your concerns, call the UHC and ask to consult with a counselor.
For students with concerns about their drug and alcohol use, the Health Center offers assessment and consultation with a counselor who can help them make decisions about whether or not they are in need of treatment. If it is determined that the student is in need of treatment, the counselor can work with the student to help them decide what type of treatment would be most appropriate. Treatment may include meeting with a counselor at the University Health Center for therapy, receiving therapy at a drug and alcohol treatment center, or entering a day treatment or residential treatment center for alcohol and drug use. The type of treatment recommended for a student would be based a very thorough assessment and an understanding of the student’s individual needs.