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How to Identify and Refer a Distressed Student

The University Counseling Center is accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services and is staffed by qualified mental health professionals. In addition, the UCC is a training site for graduate students entering the mental health profession. The UCC abides by the highest professional and ethical standards.

Identifying Students in Distress

You may encounter students in your office or in your classrooms who need help. Many of these students have not sought help or may be unaware of the services available to them. Your role is an important one in identifying students in distress and referring them to available resources. The following signs may indicate a need for a student to be referred to UCC:

  • Faculty and staff are concerned about a student
  • Students express concern about another student
  • Isolation from others
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Poor attendance in classes
  • Student has outbursts of anger
  • Attention/memory difficulties
  • Alcohol/drug abuse
  • Inappropriate crying
  • Chronic fatigue or low energy
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings

Suggestions for Talking to the Student

  • Speak with the student in private.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Show concern and interest.
  • Repeat back the essence of what the student has told you to verify the accuracy of what the student is conveying.
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
  • Suggest the UCC as a helpful resource, and discuss this with the student.
  • Explain to the student that counseling at the UCC is free and confidential.
  • Suggest that the student call or come into the UCC to make an appointment. Give the UCC phone number and location (see "Referral Resources").
  • If the student resists help and you are still worried, contact the UCC to discuss your concerns.

Making Referrals to the University Counseling Center

  • If you wish to be certain the student made an appointment, call the UCC while the student is in your office because  UCC cannot inform you whether or not the student made or kept an appointment. Write down the appointment information, time, date, counselor, and location for the student.
  • If you think the situation is an emergency, but not life threatening, state that the student needs an emergency appointment. We will make every effort to see the student immediately.
  • If there is immediate danger to self or others, call 911 or the Office of Public Safety at (309) 298-1949.
  • Sometimes it is helpful to walk the student to the UCC and remain during the initial meeting with the counselor.
  • Follow up with the student by inquiring as to whether the appointment was kept and how the session went.
  • If you are concerned about a student but are uncertain of the appropriateness of the referral, or if the student resists a referral, feel free to call the UCC for a consultation.

Services for Students

Office hours are from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Thursday, and 8:00 am to 4:30 pm on Friday.

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Study skills assistance
  • Assessment services
  • Career counseling
  • Consultation
  • Referral
  • Educational programming
  • Crisis intervention

University Counseling Center Services for Faculty/Staff

  • Consultation
  • Guest lecturers
  • Referral assistance

Note: Counseling services for faculty/staff are available through the Western Illinois University Employee Assistance Program at (866) 659-3848.

Referral Resources

University Counseling Center
Memorial Hall, 1st Floor
Western Illinois University
(309) 298-2453

Beu Health Center
Western Illinois University
(309) 298-1888

Office of Public Safety
Mowbray Hall
Western Illinois University
(309) 298-1949
EMERGENCIES DIAL 911

Student Development and Orientation
Western Illinois University
(309) 298-1884

McDonough District Hospital
Emergency Room
(309) 833-4104