University Counseling Center

How to Identify and Refer a Distressed Student

The University Counseling Center 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 then see the student as soon as possible that same day.
  • 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.    

Reach Out Statement for Faculty Syllabi

Western Illinois University is committed to supporting your mental health and well-being. We recognize that students may experience a variety of stressors or personal concerns during their academic experience that could impede their academic performance and decrease their ability to participate in activities of daily living. Throughout the semester, if I suspect you may need additional support, I may express my concerns to you and remind you of the resources that may be helpful to you.

The University Counseling Center (UCC) offers free, confidential personal counseling services. To schedule an appointment, call the University Counseling Center at 309-298-2453. The UCC is located on the first floor of Memorial Hall, and is available Monday through Friday 8am-4:30pm.


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Contact Info

University Counseling Center
Memorial Hall 1st Floor
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455

Please call to schedule an appointment. Appointments cannot be made through email.

Phone: (309) 298-2453
Fax: (309) 298-3253