Tips for Supporting and Encouraging Students
- Request to see the student in private (as long as there is not a concern for safety).
- Briefly acknowledge your observations and perceptions of the student’s
situation and express your concerns directly and honestly.
- Listen carefully to what the student is troubled about and try to see the issue
from their point of view without agreeing or disagreeing.
- Follow up with the student to see how they is doing.
- Help the student identify options for action and explore possible consequences.
If possible, offer to phone or accompany the student to the appropriate resources.
- Avoid labeling the student’s behavior or the issues presented.
- Inform the student about what can be gained by meeting with a counselor or
other professional to talk about their problems.
- Be open about the limits on your ability to help the student.
- If the student appears to be in imminent danger of hurting themselves or others, consult
with the Counseling Center or UCF PD at 823-5555 immediately. You could walk the student to the
Counseling Center if the student is agreeable. If not, call UCF PD. Afterwards, complete
the Incident/Student of Concern Report Form on-line to alert the OSRR Student of Concern
Staff of the issue for follow-up.
- Do not promise to keep threats to self or others a secret.
The Student Who Is Suicidal
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students. Suicidal persons are intensely
ambivalent about killing themselves and typically respond to help. Suicidal states are usually
time-limited and most who commit suicide are neither crazy nor psychotic.
High-risk factors include: feelings of hopelessness and futility; a severe loss or threat of
loss; a detailed suicide plan; history of a previous attempt; history of alcohol or drug abuse; and
feelings of alienation and isolation. Suicidal students usually want to communicate their feelings.
Any opportunity to do so should be encouraged.
- Be available to listen, to talk, to be concerned
- Acknowledge that a threat or attempt at suicide is a plea for help
- Take the student seriously. 80% of those attempting suicide give warning
of their intent
- Walk the student to the Counseling Center. Do not leave the student alone. If it is
after 5pm or on the weekend, access emergency services through UCF Police Department
or call the Counseling Center’s after-hours crisis hot-line.
- Care for yourself. Helping someone who is suicidal is difficult, demanding,
and draining work.
- Minimize the situation or depth of the feeling, for example “Oh it
will be much better tomorrow.”
- Be afraid to ask the person if they are so depressed or sad that they
want to hurt themselves, for example “You seem so upset and discouraged
that I’m wondering if you are considering suicide.”
- Over commit yourself, and therefore not be able to deliver on what you promise
- Ignore your limitations
The Student Who Is Abusing Substances
A variety of substances are available that students perceive as a way to escape from pressing demands.
The most abused substance is alcohol. Alcohol and other drug-related accidents remain the single
greatest cause of preventable death among college students.
- Share your honest concern and encourage the student to seek help
- Be alert for signs of alcohol and drug abuse such as preoccupation with drugs,
periods of memory loss, and deteriorating performance in classes. Signs of steroid
use / abuse include increased aggression / irritability and extreme mood swings.
- Get necessary help from UCF PD in instances of intoxication
- Encourage the student to seek an evaluation though the Alcohol and Other Drug Office
or Counseling Center
- If the problem seems to be worsening despite prior referrals, submit an
Incident/Student of Concern report to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities
- Ignore the problem
- Chastise or lecture the student
- In any way encourage the behavior
The Student with Disordered Eating
Eating disorders are believed to impact around 20 percent of college students.
The presence of an eating disorder in a student’s life not only impacts his
or her body image and food intake, but can also affect a student’s social and
academic functioning. Students may struggle with attention and concentration issues,
depressive symptoms, physical pain, low energy, social isolation and low self-esteem.
- Recognize the danger associated with eating disorder behaviors rather than
viewing them as a choice, lifestyle or an attempt to obtain attention.
- Encourage the student to seek out formal help including counseling and a
thorough medical assessment.
- Refer the student to the Dietitian for nutrition counseling.
- Support the student even if she or he is not currently motivated to obtain help.
- Submit an Incident/Student of Concern Report to the Office of Student Rights
and Responsibilities for review.
- Assume that all thin students have an eating disorder by remembering that
these issues impact students of all shapes and sizes.
- Confront a student by stating “I think you have an eating disorder.
” Instead, share your concerns with the student by naming the behaviors
you have witnessed.
- Encourage the student to “just eat” or “stop throwing up.
” Recovery from an eating disorder often requires mental health treatment
to alter behaviors.