Center fro Support and Intervention - When to Refer , University of California, Berkeley

When to Refer a Student

Be aware of the following indicators of distress. Look for groupings, frequency, duration, and severity  —  not just isolated symptoms.

 

Academic Indicators

  • Sudden decline in quality of work and grades
  • Repeated absences
  • Disorganized performance
  • Multiple requests for extensions
  • Overly demanding of faculty’s or staff’s time and attention
  • Bizarre content in writings or presentations
  • You find yourself providing more personal than academic support

Physical Indicators

  • Marked changes in physical appearance (e.g., grooming or hygiene deterioration, weight loss/gain)
  • Excessive fatigue or sleep disturbance
  • Intoxication, hangovers, or smelling of alcohol
  • Disoriented or “out of it”
  • Garbled, tangential, disconnected, or slurred speech
  • Behavior is out of context or bizarre
  • Delusions and paranoia

Psychological Indicators

  • Self-disclosure of personal distress (e.g., family or financial problems, grief, suicidal thoughts)
  • Unusual/disproportionate emotional response to events
  • Excessive tearfulness or panic reactions
  • Irritability or unusual apathy
  • Verbal abuse (e.g., taunting, badgering, intimidation)
  • Concern from peers

Safety Risk Indicators

  • Unprovoked anger or hostility
  • Physical violence (e.g., shoving, grabbing, assault, use of weapons)
  • Implying or making direct threat to harm self or others
  • Academic assignments dominated by themes of extreme hopelessness, rage, worthlessness, isolation, despair, acting out, suicidal ideations/violent behaviors 
  • Stalking or harassing
  • Communicating threats via email, correspondence, texting, or phone calls

(from UC Berkeley Gold Folder: Faculty/Staff Reference to Assist Students in Distress)

 
 

Frequent Examples of Referable Concerning Behaviors

  • Unusual or erratic behavior in class, in the residence halls, during advising sessions, etc.
  • Extended absence from class or activities by a typically engaged student
  • Written work or creative expression with troubling themes or references
  • Verbal or written threats made by a student toward another students, faculty, and/or staff
  • Written or verbal expressions of suicidal ideation or intent
  • Other actions that cause an alarm or call into question the safety of the student or his/her peers