Responding to Students In Distress

In your role as a staff or faculty at Evergreen, you may come in contact with students who are distressed. Each member of the Evergreen community has a responsibility to help students succeed. Campus wellness is a campus issue, not solely individual members. 

No one has to do everything. Everyone has to do something.

How To Identify Students in Distress

At one time or another, everyone feels upset or distressed. Sometimes we just have a bad day. However when layers of struggle, challenge, and distress are present over time, it suggests problems/challenges could warrant more attention. A starting place of response is non-judgment.

Common Warning Signs:

  • Changes in behavior, hygiene, affect, engagement
  • Changes in relationships, ways of engagement
  • Significant drop in attendance or performance
  • Unusual, exaggerated, and/or persistent emotional responses
  • Disruption, manipulation, outbursts, significant "irrational" distrust and deregulation
  • Inability/significant challenges to communicate, converse, or collaborate
  • Threats of statements of harm to self or others

Tools for Communicating/Responding

If the situation is less severe, you think the student might be open to discussing their concerns with you and you are comfortable and willing to do so

  • Calmly and respectfully, let the student know you have noticed they have been having difficulties. Use specific examples, if possible, to describe the behavior.
  • Ask the student if they want to talk about it with you (or someone else if you/they aren't comfortable). Respect the space if they do not want to talk.

Respond to those students who disclose their personal concerns and lives to you by:

  • Active & Genuine Listening
  • Avoid judging, labeling, and/or diagnosing behaviors or a person's reality
  • Keep your own limits and boundaries in mind. Do not promise anything you can't guarantee
  • Making sure you and the student(s) are safe
  • Refer to Student Wellness Services or the CARE Team
  • Offer additional resources, as needed.

If the student needs additional support, but is resistant to go, you may support by explaining:

  • Confidentiality of Student Wellness Services
  • Using counseling doesn't make you weak, but wise
  • There are a variety of resources for them to consider on their own
  • Follow up with the student to give them an opportunity to talk (with permission)

If the crisis is life threatening or behavior is extreme

  • Call Police 911 or 360.867.6832
  • Be calm, clear, and simple
  • Remember safety of all parties; if you feel escalation is happening do not attempt an intervention. Keep your distance and continue to monitor until other help has arrived.

If the concern is specific to Title IX, please contact the Title IX Coordinator 360.867.5224 / SEM 1 4119 as a responsible employee.

If the concern is specific to discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, please contact the Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity office 360.867.5371 / LIB 3102. 

Remember you may always consult with Student Wellness Services and/or the CARE Team.

Self care for those involved in the situation, including you and others who are supporting that person are important. Services and resources are available for you!