What are common signs that a student may be in distress?
- Chronic tardiness and/or lack of attendance
- Incomplete assignments
- Diminished motivation
- Poor hygiene
- Irritable, argumentative, and/or disruptive behavior in class
- Low and/or elevated mood
- Withdrawal from peers
- Excessive anxiety, worry or panic
- Suspected alcohol or drug use
- Difficulties focusing and concentrating
- Self-destructive thoughts or behaviors
How can I help a student in distress?
Because of your position as a university staff or faculty member, you may be called upon to help a student in need. Students often develop close positive relationships with staff, teachers, and other university personnel. With that in mind, you may be in a position to help respond when a student is struggling. It can often become overwhelming when assisting a student in crisis. Remember to listen and act!
- When working with students in crisis, remember to be an active listener. Remove distractions (paperwork, phone calls) and give the student your full undivided attention. This is not a time for judgment or directives. Simply listen and offer comfort and support.
- When working with someone in crisis, it is often helpful to maintain a calm, steady presence. Speak slowly and clearly. This can often help the student feel more relaxed.
- Remind the student that they are not alone and provide them with support and resources that may be helpful to them. Follow through to ensure that the student is directed to the appropriate referral source.
What resources are available through CAPS?
At times you may be faced with student issues that you feel ill-prepared to manage effectively. CAPS staff may be able to help. Our office is staffed with seven doctoral level psychologists. If you have a student who you are concerned about, you are encouraged to contact our office to consult with any one of our clinicians for assistance. If you are concerned about a student and would like to speak to one of our psychologists, we can be reached at (973) 761-9500. There is always a staff member available for consultations about students of concern.
How do I help a student make an appointment for counseling?
If you are with a student in crisis, it is always recommended that you and/or another student personally walk the student of concern to CAPS if possible. If you are unable to do so and have concerns about the student’s safety, you can call CAPS for additional assistance. We have staff available for emergency walk-in appointments from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday.
Students not in crisis may call our main number (973) 761-9500 and speak with our secretary to schedule an initial intake appointment. The intake appointment is scheduled for 1 hour and helps the clinician gather information about the student’s presenting concerns. Next, a determination will be made as to what services will be most helpful for the student. This may include individual therapy, group therapy, or a referral for specialized treatment.
CAPS is located in Mooney Hall, on the 2nd Floor. We are open from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students can make an appointment by calling (973) 761-9500. If a student has an emergency after hours, they can contact Public Safety and Security at (973) 761-9300 and ask to speak to the psychologist on-call.
Want to know more?
The staff at CAPS have been trained to provide Campus Connect, a highly interactive gatekeeper training program designed specifically for members of the university community who are in a position to provide assistance to students in distress and at risk for suicide. The experientially based training is designed to enhance participant’s knowledge, awareness, and skills concerning college student suicide. Specifically, Campus Connect aims to increase participant’s knowledge about suicide statistics, risk and protective factors, warning signs, and referral resources; to increase empathic listening skills, communication skills, and the ability to ask individuals if they are thinking about suicide; and to increase self-awareness concerning the potential emotional reactions gatekeepers may experience when interacting with students in crisis. Please contact CAPS if you would like to schedule a 2 hour training for your department.
Remember, working with students in crisis can often feel overwhelming. Please reach out to the CAPS staff for additional assistance and guidance when necessary. We look forward to working with you.