Counseling Services are recommended when you feel the student’s issues are beyond your expertise, and you are perhaps unsure what to say or do. If you feel that you have listened and been supportive without seeing much progress, or it becomes apparent that it is not simply a temporary “rough patch” for the individual, it’s likely that professional services would be helpful. Or, if it is becoming difficult for you to manage your own emotions or boundaries, and you are spending more time or effort than you probably should be giving, it is in both of your best interests to refer for counseling. Remember, your role as a friend or faculty/staff member is to support the individual as they make choices and learn how to best navigate their life. If you feel like the responsibility for this person’s well-being has somehow been put in your hands, then it is definitely time to refer.
In general situations, referring is most effective when a certain amount of “normalizing” or “de-stigmatizing” is present. A matter-of-fact approach to the services available and the commonness of their usage is recommended. Faculty members or students can offer to call Counseling Services on the student’s behalf while he or she is there with you, or simply be with them as they call from your office or room. You can also offer to show them where the Counseling Center is located (231 Burbick Hall) and walk with them. If there is minor resistance, continue making these offers gently. If there is fairly major or repeated resistance, ask if you can send a quick e-mail to the counselor asking him to contact the student because you care about their well-being. At the very least, show them the counseling services webpage on http://www.ab.edu/current-students/counseling-services so they have more information/resources on what to expect from counseling and what the common issues are for college students. Remember, you are always allowed to talk with the counselor about concern over a student, or make a referral with or without their permission.
Any suicidal threat should be taken seriously. Having said this, the addition of facebook and other social networking sites has made it increasingly difficult to determine whether “cryptic” postings are actually signs that someone is suicidal. Don’t hesitate to ask someone directly if they are feeling suicidal. Most people who actually feel that way will answer honestly. If someone confirms that they are suicidal, make sure you or someone else, stays with them at all times while you contact the Director of Counseling Services (304) 457-6320. If the incident occurs after hours, Security (x6247, x7911), or one of the Resident Directors will be able to assist, and will have access to the Director of Counseling’s emergency cell phone number. Or, additionally you may contact Appalachian Community Health Care (304) 636-3232, as they have 24 hour crisis assistance, and can aid in finding in-patient services at hospitals and other facilities if necessary.
If someone has posted or stated apparent suicidal messages, but upon talking does not confirm that they are suicidal, there are several steps. First, listen for a while. It may be that they simply need someone to talk with, and are able to re-stabilize themselves with obvious improvement in mood by the end of the discussion. Or, it may become obvious that they are dealing with things less well than they are able to admit. In either case, your next step is to set boundaries and define your role with them. If you are a peer, let them know that you are willing to support them by “being a friend” and talking sometimes, or hanging out and doing something fun if they need to get a new perspective for a while. But, clearly state that you are not trained to deal with suicidal messages, and in their best interest, will make a referral to the counselor if/when you see or hear those messages. Then, make the referral to the counselor, or walk over with them to connect them with the counseling services.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, the following steps can be taken to get help:
• First, find a safe place and a safe person to be with.
• If major injuries have occurred, or someone may still be in danger, call 911.
• Many individuals will be in a state of disbelief/shock and will likely not know what to do next. Women’s Aid in Crisis (304) 457-5020 is a local agency with trained individuals to help in such occasions. Making this call will give the individual the time, place, and guidance necessary to consider the next steps and make good choices.
• Considerations such as where to be for the night, whether to report the incident, seeking medical attention, preserving evidence, telling parents, getting counseling, etc. can be discussed with a crisis worker as the individual is able.
• Other options for individuals who have been sexually assaulted recently, or in the past, include seeking out Sexual Assault Peer Advocates on campus, the Director of Counseling at Alderson-Broaddus College (304) 457-6320, Women’s Aid in Crisis (304) 457-5020, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE.
• Counseling Services, or referrals elsewhere, are available on campus to begin working through the trauma of sexual assault. If you are interested, or know someone who could be, contact the Director, Chad Hostetler, MA, LPC at (304) 457-6320 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.