Information for Faculty or Staff

Your first priority should always be safety. If you are concerned that someone may pose a safety risk to you or the campus in general, call SAFE Campus at (360) 650-SAFE (650-7233). In an emergency situation, call (360) 650-3911 to reach WWU Campus Police.

In general, you should consider referring students for counseling if their problems have compromised their ability to function academically, personally, or socially, or to take pleasure in life.

Some signs and symptoms of student distress are procrastination and poorly prepared work, infrequent class attendance, lack of energy, falling asleep in class, marked changes in personal hygiene, impaired speech or garbled and disjointed thoughts, threats to harm oneself or others, and high levels of irritability.

Other behaviors that indicate student distress include frequently missed classes, social withdrawal, crying in the office, or disturbing material in academic assignments.

Tips for Referring a Student to the Counseling Center

  • Talk to the student in private.
  • Specifically state your reasons for concern.
  • Keep the focus on the actions or behaviors of that student which cause you concern.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
  • Discuss with the student a referral to the Counseling Center. Find out if the student is aware of counseling resources at Western, and ask if they would like more information.
  • If the student is receptive, suggest that he or she call us for an appointment.
  • It may be helpful to offer to call the Counseling Center while the student is in your office to help them arrange an appointment. Make sure they write down the time, date, and name of the counselor for their appointment.
  • If the student has spoken to you of potential harm, it is critical that you inform the receptionist of this when you call.

If the Student is Reluctant to Seek Counseling

  • Be direct in letting the student know that you believe a counselor would be of help in this situation.
  • Inform the student the services are strictly confidential and free of charge.
  • Assure the student that it is acceptable to schedule a single appointment just to find out more information. Meeting with a counselor once does not lock them into a commitment to on-going counseling.
  • Point out that a situation does not have to reach crisis proportions for him/her to benefit from professional help.
  • Acknowledge, validate and discuss the students' real fears and concerns about seeking help.
  • Emphasize that, although some people feel that seeking counseling is an admission of weakness or failure, in fact it takes considerable courage and integrity.
  • Don't force the issue if the student resists -- simply restate your concerns and recommendations.
  • Offer to accompany the student to the Counseling Center or offer to assist them in setting up an appointment.

If the Student Refuses Help

While it is important to care about the emotional well being of students, we cannot make their decisions for them and an independent decision by the student to seek help is best. If the student resists referral with the situation and you remain uncomfortable, feel free to contact the Counseling Center to discuss your concern.

If an emergency exists when the Counseling Center is closed, use our emergency services.

If the student lives in the residence halls, you can contact or recommend that the student contact his or her Resident Advisor or Resident Director. Residence hall staff are able to contact a counselor after-hours if needed.

Page Updated 05.17.2012