The Counseling Center is concerned with promoting the psychological well-being of students. All students experience occasional difficulties coping with the challenges of life and many come on their own initiative to the Counseling Center for assistance in managing stress, transitions, and other issues. In your unique position as a faculty or staff member, you may be the first to recognize when personal difficulties are affecting a student's academic or social relations.
The MSU Counseling Center specializes in the treatment of all psychological, developmental, and mental health issues that affect individuals in a college setting. A great amount of our work involves counseling with students who are distressed in one way or another. We see students for a wide variety of concerns:
Alcohol and Drug Use
Worries About Grades
Anger and Violence
Grief and Loss
We are happy to help students with these issues or any other issue a student may bring to the Counseling Center. If we cannot help a student with a specific problem, we will be glad to give referrals to appropriate departments or community agencies.
When to Refer
The decision to refer a student to the Counseling Center is first based upon your own observations with an individual who shows signs and symptoms of emotional, academic, or career choice concerns. If you notice yourself doing more “personal counseling” than giving advice or guidance to students or if you notice a student experiencing troubled or troubling behaviors, a referral to the Counseling Center is appropriate.
Each individual will experience emotional problems in a different way, but some common indicators that a student is in distress include:
- Infrequent class attendance and inadequate effort put into assignments
- Sadness, tearfulness
- Reports of sleeplessness or sleeping too much
- Reference to hopelessness, helplessness, and /or suicide
- Marked change in personal hygiene
- Either a lack of energy or an excessive amount of energy
- Nervousness, agitation, impaired speech
- High levels of irritability including undue aggressive or abrasive behavior expressed toward others
- Bizarre or strange behavior
- Increased dependency on you
How to Refer
Tell the individual, in private and in a straightforward manner, of your concern. Be specific regarding the behavior patterns you have observed. Suggest that he/she consider talking with a counselor. If the student agrees, depending on your sense of urgency you may:
- Walk the student to the Counseling Center to ensure contact.
- Call us directly or have the student call us from your office.
- Agree that the student will walk over and call you when he/she arrives.
- Suggest the individual call or come by the Counseling Center to make an appointment.
- As appropriate, let the individual know that with permission you are willing to give the counselor information about the nature of the problem and the reason for the referral.
If you are unsure about whether to refer, call us. Our professional counselors are always willing to discuss your concerns and possible courses of action.
If the student reacts as though you are implying he/she is “sick” or “disturbed,” you might reassure him other that many students who are having situational or temporary difficulties, academic problems, or career-related difficulties, use the Counseling Center. You might also remind the individual that Center services are free of charge and completely confidential.
Because communication between a counselor and a client is confidential, we cannot discuss a client’s situation, or reveal that counseling is being received, without the client's written consent. If you wish follow-up information on someone you have referred, please ask that individual to provide us with permission to speak with you. If you do not hear from us, it is likely that permission has been denied.
Crisis or Emergency Situations
Occasionally a student may appear to be extremely upset or distraught. Crisis or emergency situations may involve an individual threatening or attempting suicide, posing a threat to self or others or appearing unable to care for him/her. If a student is acting in a troubling manner or seems to be losing control, there are several points to keep in mind:
- Remain calm. This may help the individual to control his or her emotions.
- If possible, offer a quiet place for the individual to talk, and listen to him or her with a considerate and helpful attitude.
- Be simple and direct. Try to convey your understanding of the problem, and respond honestly about whether you can help.
- Be firm. It can be helpful and important to set clear limits and provide a plan of action.
- Walk the individual to the Counseling Center if you feel it is appropriate. In urgent situations, a counselor will respond as soon as possible.
- Call to speak with a counselor if you need assistance or consultation. During evening and weekend hours, call emergency numbers.
- Any reference to a personal consideration or threat of suicide should be considered extremely serious, and a referral to the Counseling Center is strongly advised. If you feel the student presents direct or immediate danger to self or others, contact Campus Police at 397-4239.
Other Services Available
- Consultation with faculty or staff regarding student issues.
- Presentations to classes or groups on a variety of topics: stress management, time management, assertiveness, study skills, communication skills, and relationship issues. We will also present a workshop on a psychological topic chosen by the faculty or staff member. Counseling Center Staff will also design and conduct workshops for departments on topics such as team building, staff development, and training about mental health issues. Call Pam Midgett Ph.D., LPC, and Director of the Counseling Center, to discuss possibilities or to schedule a speaker.
- You are welcome to attend any workshop or presentation we offer. If you would like for students in your class to attend, we will provide attendance verification slips. We distribute flyers, post information on campus, and send e-mail announcements advertising our events, or you may contact our office for current information.
- Brochures and handouts are available about a number of common concerns. Copies can be provided to you upon request.
- Brief consultation with faculty or staff concerning personal issues during summer months and between the fall and spring semesters. These consultation sessions are designed to be brief, specific to an immediate problem, and focused on finding a mental health provider in the community for the faculty or staff member.