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MCC Counseling Department

Working with Distressed Students

Faculty and Staff Role in Helping the Emotionally Distressed Student

College years bring fond memories to many, yet thinking back carefully, we may also remember those days as having been quite stressful. Financial worries, leaving home and being on our own for the first time, and trying to do well academically contribute to stressful transitions to college life. MCC students also experience these struggles. Students are involved, to varying degrees, with their development as independent adults. Most are in the process of developing careers, relationships, life goals and their own individual identities. Situational and developmental problems frequently interfere with academic performance. In the college community, about 10 percent of the students may be distressed by depression, acute anxiety, drug or alcohol abuse, or more serious conditions.

Many students realize that stress is interfering with their personal and academic goals and seek counseling services on their own. However, faculty and staff are often the first to recognize that a student may not be functioning well academically and/or emotionally. Students may turn to you because of your position and the respect they hold for you as a faculty or staff member. Faculty/staff often handle these difficult situations themselves. While the number of such contacts may be small, their significance is not.

You are in an excellent position to spot the emotionally troubled student. You may observe that at certain times of the year, particularly during examinations and holidays, students experience increased anxiety. The student's behavior, especially if it is inconsistent with your experience of him/her, could well constitute an inarticulate attempt to draw attention to his/her plight, a "cry for help."

Helping the Emotionally Distressed Student

Signs of Distress

Guidelines for Interaction


Making a Referral

Verbally Aggressive Student

Violent or Physically Destructive Student

Student in Poor Contact with Reality

Suspicious Student

Anxious Student

Demanding or Passive Student

Substance Abusing Student

Depressed Student

Suicidal Student

Warning Signs of Potentially Suicidal Behavior

Counseling: Emotionally Distressed Student