Counseling Resources for Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff of Northwestern have the unique opportunity of having ongoing, direct contact with students and can identify students who are struggling. To support your efforts, here are helpful practical tips about assisting students most effectively and referring them to the university counselor when needed.

Note: the University counselor does not provide counseling services to faculty and staff. Contact the Human Resources Department for employee counseling resources.

Identifying a student who is struggling

Stress is a natural part of life and no stranger to college students. Most students cope successfully with the rigors of college life. Those who don’t tend to show signs that they are struggling in some way. You will often see these signs below in the classroom or on campus.

  • Significant change in academic performance, preparation, and behavior in class
  • Excessive absences and tardiness
  • Repeated requests for special consideration due to life events
  • Unusual change in mood, demeanor or hygiene
  • Listlessness or falling asleep in class
  • Inappropriate remarks or outbursts
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Signs of drug or alcohol usage that is noticeable in class
  • Disorganized thoughts or speech
  • Inability to concentrate on conversation or activity
  • Increasing dependency upon you
  • Reports of death or difficult relationship
  • References to suicide
  • Social isolation
  • Statements of hopelessness or prolonged observable unhappiness

Early intervention is almost always best. It is beneficial to the student if you can refer a student to our counselor before they’re in crisis.

Guidelines for talking to a student who may need referral to counseling:

  • Talk to the student in private
  • Listen carefully and express your concern
  • Repeat back the essence of what the student tells you
  • Avoid criticism or judgment
  • Suggest the student seek counseling
  • Assure the student the counseling is free of charge
  • Encourage the student to “try it and see how it goes”
  • Offer to call the counselor for them, or let them use your phone to make an appointment
  • Consider offering to walk the student to the counselor’s office