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 (7233). In an emergency situation, call (360) 650-3911 to reach WWU Campus Police. If emergency counseling services are needed when the Counseling Center is closed, use our Crisis Services.
When to Refer a Student to the Counseling Center
In general, you should consider referring students to the Counseling Center if their problems have compromised their ability to function academically, personally, or socially. You should also consider referring students if they seem to lack the ability to take pleasure in life. Some signs and symptoms of student distress may include:
- 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
- High levels of irritability
- Frequently missed classes
- Social withdrawal
- Crying in your office
- Disturbing material in their academic assignments
If the student lives in the residence halls, you can contact or recommend that the student contact their Resident Advisor or Resident Director. Residence hall staff are able to contact a counselor after-hours if needed.
If you want to share concerns or make a complaint related to a student, you may submit an online care report. The information you share is submitted to the Office of Student Life. Professional staff will review the information and will work to coordinate support for the student to ensure their well-being, or in the case of a complaint, initiate the student conduct process. Contact information is required in the case of gathering additional or verifying existing information.
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 the student would like more information.
- If receptive, suggest that the student calls us for an appointment.
- It may be helpful to offer to call the Counseling Center while the student is in your office to help arrange an appointment. Make sure to write down the time, date, and name of the counselor for the appointment.
- If the student has spoken to you of potential harm, it is critical that you inform the front office assistant 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 confidential and funded by the health service fee.
- Assure the student that it is acceptable to schedule a single appointment just to find out more information.
- Point out that a situation does not have to reach crisis proportions for the student to benefit from professional help.
- Acknowledge, validate and discuss the student’s fears and concerns about seeking help.
- Emphasize that, although some people feel that seeking counseling is an admission of weakness or failure, 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 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 concerns. Please visit Responding to Distress for working with a student in distress.