Assist a Troubled Student
Faculty and Staff: How You Can Help
Individual faculty or staff members are encouraged to provide a first-level response to problem student behavior, unless the behavior is threatening or warrants more serious attention by the university. Experience indicates that, despite the common fear that responding to problem behaviors will escalate the trouble, the opposite is usually true. Students often express gratitude when faculty members respond effectively to problem behaviors. However, it is important to know one's own limitations in providing assistance to students. To learn more, refer to the following resources:
- How To Make a Referral
- Examples: How To Assist Students
- Students in Crisis
- Response To a Campus Crisis
- Protect the Campus Community
- Campus Connections
Often the best response is to listen carefully and then to encourage the student to seek help at the Student Counseling Center. You may call the center for a consultation if you are unsure of an appropriate intervention or if the student is reluctant to accept your referral. The following indicators may be useful in assessing whether or not a referral should be made.
Disruptive behavior: An individual student exhibiting inappropriate behavior should be approached in a private conversation that includes a description of the problem behavior and the specific consequences.
Stating a need for help: If a student comes to a faculty/staff member with a direct request for help, that student probably will value a recommendation for a referral to a professional.
Talking about suicide: If a student talks or writes about suicide, this should be taken seriously. If the student includes actual plans for suicide, the severity of the danger to the student increases dramatically. Suicide is often considered an option when the person feels hopeless, trapped, out of control or depressed. To make the assumption that talk of suicide is aimed solely toward getting attention can be a potentially fatal mistake. If you become aware of a student who is considering suicide, please make an immediate referral to the Counseling Center.
Observable changes: Some students do not state directly that there is a problem, but their behaviors can be telling indicators. Distinct changes in academic performance, withdrawal from others, changes in class participation, crying, outbursts of anger, increased or decreased activity, and poor attendance are examples of significant behavioral changes. Any of these observable changes may merit a referral to the Counseling Center.
Physical complaints: Students who repeatedly report physical illness or symptoms may be experiencing psychological problems. A change in eating patterns, sleep disturbances, fatigue, stomach aches, and pain are some common complaints that may be related to psychological problem.
Alcohol and drug abuse: Coming to class or a meeting when intoxicated or high is a serious signal. Often people drink or take drugs as a way to cope with and alleviate other problems in their life. Unfortunately, the substance abuse itself may become a problem that interferes with social, academic, and work functioning.
Academic problems: Students who have a noticeable decline in their academic performance may be feeling overwhelmed with other areas of their lives. Some students come to classes with difficulty concentrating, completing assignments, or performing well on exams.
Behavior Assessment and Intervention Team
The Behavior Assessment and Intervention Team (BAIT) reviews behavioral incidents and ensures a systematic response to students whose behavior may be disruptive or harmful to themselves or the UT Dallas community. The team assists in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of students and other members of the UT Dallas community.