Most school faculty and staff members enter the career not only to educate children and shape the future, but also to provide them with support. Since staff members at schools interact with their students so often, these daily interactions can be very important to identify when students need assistance.
It’s important to listen to students when they say upfront that they would like counseling services or other help. It’s a very brave step for students to come out and specify when they need help. But sometimes, it’s not that simple. Let’s discuss the signs you’ll see when it’s time for a student referral.
Identifying when it’s time for a student referral
Some signs may be more subtle than others, and if you are noticing that the behavior in a student is off, it’s important to keep monitoring them to see if their behaviors improve or worsen.
These signs include:
- Decreased quality in schoolwork, tests, and participation
- Increased absence from class
- Appearance changes such as: depressed appearance, weight gain/loss, visible exhaustion, changes in personal hygiene
- Nervousness, agitation, aggressiveness, non-stop talking
- Strange behavior or speech
- Violent outbursts
- Dependency on faculty or staff (ie: spending significant amounts of time visiting during office hours)
- Signs of excessive alcohol/drug use
- Evidence of self-injury
- Binging/purging of food
- Changes in social circles (withdrawal from friends; isolation)
- Physical or sexual assault
- Indirect or direct mentions of suicide
- Uncharacteristic and concerning comments in a student’s papers or schoolwork
It may be difficult to monitor these things during remote learning, but if you still notice something concerning, it may be best to reach out to the student.
Student referral process
When approaching a student about counseling, it’s important to remember that not every student will be receptive to the idea. The best way to combat this is to encourage them that counseling has helped other students in a similar situation, and that counseling is a safe and confidential place to explore their feelings.
At the end of the day, you want the student to decide themselves that counseling is a good decision for themselves. Forcing a student into counseling will not have positive results in the long run.
If you and your school are concerned about how student referrals will work during remote learning, our Student Assistance Program aSAP! will be helpful for you. This program allows teachers and staff members to electronically refer students to your Student Assistance team when concerning behaviors arise. aSAP! also provides team planning, intervention, and support, so it is beneficial during the whole referral process. To learn more about this program, visit our website.
In conclusion, you want to observe any student with concerning issues as closely as possible. Not only that, but you want to ensure that they feel safe and comfortable. This allows them to be more willing to consider the student referral and counseling process.