If a student is able to admit to you that they have a problem you can suggest it might be helpful to approach the Counselling Service. Your encouragement can make a real difference to a student who is unsure whether they need help or whether the problem is important enough to warrant counselling. Many of the students we see tell us that they have been referred to us by a tutor or someone else in their college or department who is concerned about them.
It may also help to convey that you see getting counselling as a positive adult step which represents taking responsibility for the situation (versus seeing it as a sign of weakness or failure).
If the student is not ready to talk about their problem or to admit that they have one, extend an open invitation to come back and talk to you in the future. You can help the student to overcome their fears about seeking professional help by:
- reassuring them that anything said to a doctor, nurse, chaplain or counsellor will remain confidential
- point out the consequences of not seeking help; that the problem will not go away by itself and that academic performance could continue to suffer.
Wherever possible the student should make contact with the Counselling Service to request an appointment. This invites the student to take ownership and avoids difficulties which can arise when students feel they have been ‘sent’ for counselling by someone else. There may be special circumstances in which you feel you need to make the contact on a student’s behalf. If so, please get in touch with the Counselling Service to discuss together the best way forward.
If you find referral in any way problematic or would like to talk through the situation, please contact the Link Counsellor for your college or the duty counsellor.