Making a Referral
College is a time of inner and interpersonal change, challenge, and growth. It is an exciting, yet stressful time of life. On occasion, students may experience difficulty coping with this stress. As a faculty member, administrator, or friend, you may be one of the first to become aware of personal difficulties affecting a student’s life. The following is an outline designed to assist you in connecting students to the Counseling Center.
While counseling services are not offered to online students due to ethical and logistical reasons, Mental Health and Wellness Services website’s Online Students page offers numerous including referral information, hotline numbers, wellness apps, and confidential online mental health screenings.
When to Refer
Consider referring a student to Mental Health and Wellness Services if you notice:
- You’re doing more “personal counseling” than “academic advising” with a student
- A student seems to be perpetually tired, anxious, depressed, irritable, angry, or sad
- Marked changes in a student’s appearance or habits. For example, deterioration in grooming, hygiene, dramatic weight change, marked withdrawal in a normally outgoing person, accelerated activity or speech in a normally reserved person, or marked change in academic performance
- Indications of hopelessness or helplessness
- A student’s use of alcohol or other substances interferes with his/her relationships or academic work
- A student’s thoughts or actions appear unusual to others
How to Refer
If you notice any of these warning signs, here’s how to make a referral. Inform the student in a straightforward, matter-of-fact manner of your concern. Be specific regarding the behavior patterns you have observed. Be empathic and listen to what the student has to say. At this point, suggest that he/she consider personal counseling and refer the student to Mental Health and Wellness Services. Except in cases where you reasonably suspect that there is a potential for harm to self or other (see, “What is an Emergency” below) a student has the right to refuse treatment. If you sense reluctance on the part of the student, you may encourage the use of Mental Health and Wellness Services by suggesting that others have found it helpful: it’s at no additional cost, confidential, easy to make an appointment, and they may want to try going for one session. Although we appreciate your concern for the student you are referring, the student has to call and make his/her own appointment.
If the student agrees to the referral, you may:
- Facilitate the referral by having the student call us from your office or room to arrange an appointment
- Agree that the student will contact Mental Health and Wellness Services on his or her own to arrange an appointment
- In urgent or crisis situations, walk the student over for immediate contact with our staff
- Except in emergencies, the option should be left open for the student to accept or refuse a referral for counseling
If you are unsure about whether to refer, please contact us either by phone or in-person. As faculty and staff, you are a valuable referral source and we want to support you in supporting the student.
An emergency can occur anytime. In some instances of severe emotional disturbance, immediate response is necessary for the well being of the student and/or others. If you are unable to reach us at 203.596.4585, please call the Crisis Cell at 203.228.8706. If you do not reach anyone on the Crisis Cell, call Security at 203.596.4502.
What is an Emergency?
- A suicidal gesture, stated intention, or attempt
- Behavior posing a threat to the individual
- Behavior or stated intentions posing a threat to others
- Demonstrated inability to care for oneself
Any reference to a personal consideration of suicide, threat of suicide, or attempt at suicide should be judged as extremely serious, and referral to Mental Health and Wellness Services is strongly advised. If the reference includes the how, when, where, or other specifics of suicide plans, immediate response is critical. If a student has made a suicide attempt and is in medical danger, call 911, the Crisis Cell 203.228.8706, and Campus Security 203.596.4502 .
Whom to Call in an Emergency:
The primary campus resources for responding to mental health emergencies are Mental Health and Wellness Services 203.596.4585, and/or, the Crisis Cell 203.228.8706. A therapist will see a student who comes to Mental Health and Wellness Services in crisis as soon as possible.
After hours and on weekends calls are dispatched through the Crisis Cell and Campus Security. Be prepared to provide as much information as possible, including:
- Name of the student, yourself, and your location
- Description of the situation and the assistance needed
- Exact location of the person
- For the person who is dangerous, provide an accurate description
- If the person leaves the area, refusing to wait for assistance, note which direction they take
Communication and interactions with the Counseling Mental Health and Wellness Services will be confidential. Post University respects student’s right to privacy and does not divulge information to administration, faculty, staff, friends, family members, or others without the student’s written consent. Federal confidentiality laws and regulations prohibit Mental Health and Wellness Services clinicians from complying with any request for information or even acknowledging whether an individual is or ever was in counseling without the individual’s written consent.
There are situations and circumstances that will result in exceptions to the policy which are as follows:
- If information indicates someone is suicidal or homicidal.
- If there is suspicion of physical, emotional, sexual abuse, or neglect involving a child under the age of 18 or an adult over the age of 65, or of anyone who has a disability.
- If a court order authorizes us to release information. A subpoena does not authorize us to release information unless a court order or proper written authorization to release information provided by the client accompanies it.
- Campus Safety: 203.596.4502
- Mental Health and Wellness Services: 203.596.4585
- Crisis Cell: 203.228.8706
- Dean of Student Services: 203.596.8527 or the above Crisis numbers
- Waterbury Hospital Crisis: 203.573.6500