How to Make a Referral

Student Health and Counseling Services: Riley Hall 113. Phone: 701-671-2286

How To Identify Symptoms and Make a Referral

These symptoms are listed in an effort to aid faculty and staff in making a referral to the Counseling Center or other agencies or helping professionals when necessary.

Identifying and Aiding a Person in Emotional Distress

As you know, all of us at one time or another have times that we are not ourselves and are stressed. However, there are signs and symptoms that go beyond the "normal" amount of stress of everyday life. This page has been created in an effort to help us all identify when a student is in need of assistance.

Mild Symptoms
  • Lack of energy or fatigue that has lasted more than two weeks
  • Change in concentration in class, unable to pay attention
  • Change in eating habits, eating more or less
  • Changed pattern of interaction with classmates or instructor
  • Change in amount of participation in class or isolation
  • Change in attendance pattern
  • Change in grades from good to poor
  • Change in physical appearance, lack of personal attention to self
  • Physical complaints that are not the result of injury
  • Sudden panic attacks or increase in anxiety symptoms
Moderate Symptoms
  • Student asks for more time to hand in assignments repeatedly and is hesitant about giving a reason why more time is needed
  • Inappropriate disruptive behavior in class
  • Extreme emotional reactions
  • Open hostility to you or classmates
Severe Symptoms
  • Extremely disruptive behaviors which may be aggressive to the point of violence
  • Slurred speech, garbled or unintelligible talk
  • Unconnected thoughts or an inability to make sense to others when talking
  • Not able to recognize time, location, people
  • Expresses suicidal thoughts or actions
How to act or what to do in the above situations
  1. Stay calm and speak in a calm voice
  2. For mild or moderate symptoms, when offices are open, call Counseling Services at 701-671-2286 ext. 3-2286 or Campus Police at 701-671-2233 ext. 3-2233.
  3. For severe symptoms call Campus Police 701-671-2233 or 911 for transportation and protection services or
  4. Call Counseling Services or Student Health at 701-671-2286 for consultation
What can YOU do for mild or moderate symptoms?
  • Often just listening may help
  • Listen in a non-judgmental manner--often this may be enough to help the student work through the problem and come up with a solution
  • Express your concern regarding the student's well-being
  • Avoid criticizing the student
  • Explore what the student has done previously to solve similar situations and how it worked out
  • Allow the student the opportunity to determine what they might do to solve the problem themselves in an appropriate manner
  • Avoid becoming enmeshed (over involved) with the student and their problems
  • Offer the number of Student Health and Counseling Services 701-671- 2286
When to Refer
  • When the problem is beyond your expertise
  • When you are not comfortable
  • When personality differences interfere with your ability to help
  • When you know the student or their family personally and you would not be an objective person to help
  • When the student is reluctant to talk to you even though they acknowledge they have a problem
  • When you are stressed yourself, pressed for time or not feeling well
  • When the student reminds you of someone you know who has a similar problem that hasn't been open to your suggestions
  • The danger is immediate and there needs to be direct intervention because of danger to the student or someone else
How to make a Referral

It is true that some people will accept the suggestion of referral more readily than others. It is important that you are sensitive to the type of student with whom you are dealing.

  • Being honest with them is almost always the very best procedure. Tell them that you are concerned about them and want them to get the best help available. If you are uncomfortable dealing with their personal issue, go ahead and tell them. The student will be pleased that you were at least observant enough to notice they had not been behaving in the same manner recently.
  • Depending on the situation, have the student explore their options of people to talk with. There are many possibilities such as: a clergy person, a doctor, their parent, an old trusted friend, a grandparent, etc. If they feel they have no one to talk with, suggest someone on campus: the counselor, the student health nurse, or the campus police or housing office.
  • Assure students that just because they feel they may need help at this time that it does not mean they are seriously ill. Many of us have more than a healthy level of stress at various times during our lifetimes and we all deal with it in different ways at different times.
  • If the student does agree to be referred allow them to make the call from your office or classroom right then. It is very easy to "Just let it go" if you have just told someone how you feel and they have listened. They also will be more inclined to go and keep the appointment if you say that you are interested in how the meeting went and will ask next time you see them. 
  • If you still have questions about referral, just call Counseling Services and someone will be happy to speak with you about it.

This page's concept was obtained from various sources from other schools on the web and some of the author's originality.

Student Health and Counseling Services: Riley Hall 113, NDSCS 800 6th St. N., Wahpeton, ND 58076. Phone: 701-671-2286 or 701-671-2319.