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Student Care Network

Helping Students in Distress: Global Campus Guide

Tips for responding with compassion

Listen sensitively and carefully. Vulnerable students need you to listen and help. Ask directly how they are doing or if they have thoughts of harming themselves or others.
Trust your gut. If you are concerned about a student, talk to your department chair, supervisor, or the Office of the Dean of Students.
Connect with campus resources. We have other professionals and campus resources dedicated to helping you and students. You can start with the Student Care Network or any of the other resources listed in this guide. Your firsthand knowledge and personal connection to this student is valuable in supporting them.
Take care. Helping a distressed student can take a toll on you. Please think of your own wellbeing and seek support if needed.
Stay safe. Safety is always our top priority. Call 911 if a student poses an immediate threat to self or others.
Share what you know. State and federal laws and University policies mandate reporting in some situations. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) allows faculty and staff to report student health and safety concerns to relevant campus offices trained to handle situations with sensitivity and care. Taking appropriate action does not violate a student’s privacy. In some instances, employees have an obligation to report behavior. Visit crci.wsu.edu for more information on reporting requirements.

Common Issues Found in an Online Setting

  • “Not Sure What, but Something's Wrong.”

    Recognize

    • Disturbing written content and other communication including irrational and bizarre comments
    • Decline in academic performance
    • Sudden change in demeanor (e.g. a student who usually participates in online forums no longer replies; a student who is usually on top of assignments has been extremely forgetful, misses assignments, etc.)
    • Expresses consistent anxiety over homework assignments and other course work

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Give an example of a time that the student’s behavior has worried you
    • Listen to and believe student’s responses
    • Be supportive and encouraging if student agrees to get help

    Refer

    • Urgent: 911
    • Advice and consultation
      • WSU Police: 509-335-8548

    Report

  • Family or Personal Tragedy Loss or Crisis

    Examples: Illness or death of family member, job loss, breakup, legal difficulties, etc.

    Recognize

    • Frequent or extended lack of check-ins or missed assignments
    • Decline in academic performance
    • Mentions relationship, financial or other
    • Difficulty making decisions or disorganized thoughts
    • Mentions of exhaustion/fatigue, excessive worry, sleeping/eating problems

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Avoid criticizing, sounding judgmental, minimizing, or blaming
    • Listen to and believe student’s responses
    • Be supportive and encouraging if student agrees to get help

    Refer

    Report

  • Medical and Mental Health Concerns

    Examples: Sudden or long-term illness, depression, or anxiety

    Recognize

    • Direct statements about medical and/or mental health concerns
    • Displays irritability, agitation, or anxiety
    • Expresses feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
    • Statements that are bizarre, fantastical, paranoid, disruptive, confused, or show disorientation

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Avoid criticizing, sounding judgmental, minimizing, or blaming
    • Listen to and believe student’s responses

    Refer

    • Urgent: 911

    Report

  • Self-Harm, Suicide, Safety Risk

    Recognize

    • Preoccupation with themes of death, suicide, or harming self or others
    • Statements indicating a lack of interest in social activities
    • Statements of hopelessness such as, “I hate this life,” or, “Everyone is better off without me.”
    • Statements to the effect that the student is “going away for a long time”
    • Written or verbal statements demonstrating aggression
    • May accompany other types of emotional distress (see medical and mental health concerns above)
    • Signs of irritability, short temperedness, and obsessiveness
    • Discontinuation of email responses, phone calls, homework assignments, or online forum posts
    • Content of work turned in becoming negative, dark, or odd in tone

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Avoid criticizing, sounding judgmental, minimizing, or blaming
    • Always take suicidal statements, thoughts, or behaviors very seriously
    • If you suspect a student may be thinking about suicide, seek immediate consultation with the Office of the Dean of Students
    • If possible, ask directly about their thoughts and plans
    • Call 911 if there is a direct threat to student’s safety or the safety of others (consult with the Student Care Network if you are unsure)

    Refer

    Report

  • Alcohol or Other Drug Abuse

    Recognize

    • References to alcohol or drug use (not in an educational context) in assignments, discussion posts, or verbal conversations
    • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothes

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Give an example of a time that the student’s behavior has worried you
    • Listen to and believe the student’s responses
    • Be supportive and encouraging if the student agrees to get help

    Refer

    • Urgent: 911

    Report

  • Misconduct, Inappropriate Behavior, and Classroom Disruption

    Recognize

    • Disruptive Conduct: Inappropriate outbursts or persistent interruptions, continued arguing beyond the scope of academic debate, use of threats
    • Becoming disrespectful in online forum posts
    • Openly refusing to turn in/complete homework assignments

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Explain the impact of student’s behavior on the group or class
    • Clarify or outline your expectations
    • Contact police if student does not respond to your intervention and continues serious disruptive conduct and threatening behaviors

    Refer

    • Urgent: 911
    • Advice and consultation:
      • WSU Police: 509-335-8548

    Report

    • Office of the Dean of Students 509-335-5757
    • Office of Compliance and Civil Rights 509-335-8288
    • Student Care Network
    • Academic Dean

  • Crime, Victimization, Hazing

    Recognize

    • Expresses fear, anxiety, or anger in communications
    • Mentions feeling isolated or feeling a lack of social support

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Listen to and believe the student’s responses
    • Do not interpret student’s emotions as evidence of crime
    • Avoid criticizing, sounding judgmental, minimizing, or blaming. Say things like, “I’m sorry that happened, but I’m glad you’re safe now,” and, “Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me.”

    Refer

    Report

  • Violence, Harassment, Interpersonal/Sexual Assault

    Recognize

    • Expresses fear or unusual anxiety about pleasing the professor, fellow classmates during group projects, etc.
    • Apologizes or makes excuses for partner/other’s behavior
    • Mentions partner/other’s possessiveness, jealousy or violent behavior, but may make light of it
    • Expresses reaction when sexual violence, domestic violence, stalking, or child abuse is brought up

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Listen to and believe student’s responses
    • Do not interpret student’s emotions as evidence of assault or violence
    • Avoid criticizing, sounding judgmental, minimizing, or blaming
    • Recommend (or, if necessary, insist upon) medical intervention
    • Provide information on resources and reporting options
    • Say things like, “You’ve been through something very frightening. I’m so sorry.”

    Refer

    Report

    • Office of Compliance and Civil Rights 509-335-8288
    • Office of the Dean of Students 509-335-5757
    • Student Care Network

Student Care Network

The Student Care Network allows you to share concerns about a student’s well-being, behavior, or academic performance with colleagues who can help. After submitting a report, the Office of the Dean of Students will contact you to gather additional information, talk about the situation, and identify next steps.

The goal is to determine the best way to connect the student with resources that support their success without causing additional stress. Visit studentcare.wsu.edu for more information.

Campus Resources

Access Center Provides accommodations and services to WSU students with documented disability/medical needs.

Center for Community Standards 509-335-4532 Addresses violations of community standards for students.

Employee Assistance Program 1-877-313-4455 Provides WSU employees counseling, education, and consultation services.

Office of Compliance and Civil Rights 509-335-8288 Intake office for complaints of discrimination, discriminatory harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct. Central resource for university civil rights compliance.

Office of the Dean of Students 509-335-5757 Supports student success by providing financial assistance, academic support, guidance, and referrals.

Office of the University Ombudsman 509-335-1195 Serves as an impartial and neutral resource to assist all members of the University community.

Office Veterans Affairs & Student Veterans Center 509-335-1234 Serves all active duty military, reservists, veterans, and their families.

Community Resources

9-1-1 Emergency Contact Numbers Abroad

U.S. consular officers are located at over 260 Foreign Service posts abroad. There are also consular officers in 46 foreign cities without U.S. embassies or consulates. They’re ready to provide assistance if you need it. From the U.S. or Canada, call 1-888-407-4747, or from overseas call 202-501-4444.

Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233

Provides confidential and free support to victims of domestic violence 24 hours a day.  Advocates can provide information on safety planning and local resources, as well as provide referral services.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) 1-800-656-HOPE

Operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE) which provides free, confidential services 24 hours a day.  RAINN also partners with many local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline (1-877-995-5247) for the Department of Defense.  Information about local counseling centers and victim advocates can also be found on their website.

U.S. Department of State - Help for U.S. Citizens of Crime Overseas

Consular officers, agents, and staff work with crime victims and help them with the local police and medical systems.  Overseas Citizens Services will stay in touch with family members in the United States and help provide U.S.-based resources for the victim when possible.  From the U.S. or Canada, call 1-888-407-4747, or from overseas call 202-501-4444.

U.S. Department of State - Travel Information by Regions

The State Department’s Office of American Services and Crisis Management (ACS) administers the Consular Information Program, which informs the public of conditions abroad that may affect their safety and security.  Country Specific Information, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings are vital parts of this program.