Assisting Students in Distress

Guidelines and Tips to Assist Students in Distress

Why is this important?

According to the American College Health Association’s (ACHA) 2018 biennial survey over 60 percent of college students said they had experienced ‘overwhelming anxiety’ in the prior year, and over 40 percent of students said they felt so depressed they had difficulty functioning.  In the same timeframe, a little over one in 10 college students seriously considered suicide. Most troublingly, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among college students.  At UD the loss of students by suicide in our own community reminds us that these are not mere statistics but real people with real struggles.

UD students, over the past 10 years, have been following the national trend of seeking counseling center services in unprecedented numbers.  The top concerns that have emerged include overwhelming stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-threat indicators, grief & loss, and loss of contact with reality. The overall severity of student concerns is higher than previous generations.  We observe that those students with minoritized identities experience additional stresses. We at the CCSD have also recognized that pre and post the COVID-19 pandemic students of color are dealing with the additional daily hassles along with their cumulative effects and major traumatic events resulting from the pandemic of anti-black racism and other forms of oppression in our society.

Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic students are also dealing with the cumulative stress of the many losses and disappointments they have experienced. Students are also enduring the stress due to the demands of adjusting and adapting to the new mediums of distance learning, and the ongoing uncertainty about the future.

Say Something, Do Something: A Guide

At the Center for Counseling and Student Development (CCSD) we rely on our campus partners in student life and faculty to partner in taking care of our students’ mental health and wellbeing. As faculty and staff you are in a unique position to observe and recognize when a student may be experiencing distress or crisis.  This guide is intended to provide information and guidance on recognizing and responding to students in distress.  The faculty and academic programs who are most effective in helping our students manage crisis when it arises are those who cultivate a culture of caring.  Finally, this guide is not intended to put faculty and staff in the role of counseling students, that is our job.  We do however rely on you to help identify and refer students in distress regardless of their location, so they can get the help they need.  Thank you in advance for your reviewing this guide.  

Emergency Assistance

If you perceive an immediate danger or risk of suicide, call 911 for immediate assistance.

Students can also reach mental health support 24 hours a day on the UD Helpline or the Crisis Text Line.