As a NNMC faculty or staff member, you are in a unique position. You often have the most influential and direct contact with students and are frequently on the front lines for students in distress. Many students view faculty and staff members as confidants, role models and as trusted resources for their help with problems. This is especially apparent at NNMC, where our small classes and family atmosphere are a big part of our campus culture. We have a shared responsibility to respond to students with care and compassion for their personal well-being as well as concern for their academic success. Sometimes, the best option to help a student is through a referral to campus resources like the Counseling and Student Support Center (CASSC). Your referrals are appreciated, and we welcome any requests to consult with you about how to best help a student. Our licensed counselors are equipped to help students cope with a variety of concerns. Issues discussed range widely, but might include feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, academic concerns, substance use, issues with friends and family, or relationship concerns. The CASSC team can also help connect students to several other resources in the community to best meet their needs.
Faculty and staff often ask when a referral to CASSC is appropriate. The most obvious time is when a student specifically indicates the need for counseling services. As faculty and staff members, your daily interactions with students can be critical in identifying students in need of assistance and helping them access the appropriate services. A student should be referred for help when you believe their difficulty has gone beyond his or her capacity to manage the situation and beyond your own experience and expertise to help. A change in a student’s behavior and/or declining academic performance might prompt a referral.
The following indicators might be useful in assessing whether or not a referral should be made. A single sign may not be cause for concern; however, changes that are noticeably severe or chronic may be indicative of a more serious problem.
- Change in personal hygiene
- Dramatic changes in weight
- Falling asleep in class
- Loss of interest in activities
- Emotional outbursts or crying
- Increased anxiety, hyperactivity or inflated self-esteem
- Withdrawal from social interactions
- Agitation, restlessness or aggressive comments
- Misuse of alcohol or drugs
- Academic Concerns
- Worsening test performance
- Excessive absences or tardiness
- Decreased quality of work
- Reduced class participation
- Repeated requests for favors or extensions on homework
- Failing to meet deadlines/due dates
- Frequent requests for appointments that go beyond that of a typical student
- Excessive demands or dependency on faculty and staff
- Stressful life events
- Relationship difficulties/conflicts
- Traumatic loss of a friend or family member
- Being a victim of assault or abuse
- Conflicts with roommates or residential living staff
- Verbal or written references to suicide
- Referencing feelings of hopelessness
- Noting they feel like a burden, not belonging, or trapped
- Homicidal statements
First, differentiate between urgent and non-urgent situations. If a student is an imminent risk to themselves, see What to Do in a Crisis. Otherwise, you may choose to address your concerns with the student directly. Your attention and concern may be enough to help the student manage their situation. If the situation is non-urgent, these tips may be useful to remember:
- Be available, listen carefully and talk with the student. Make the effort to communicate and connect with the student. Your willingness to listen shows that you care.
- Be aware of your physical surroundings. Try to find a location that is private and free of distractions.
- When you meet with a student, put aside all other work in order to give him or her your full attention.
- Communicate acceptance to the student. Communicate in an "adult-adult" manner rather than resorting to a "parental" or "superior-subordinate" approach.
- Help the student clarify what might be causing their distress and the impact it is having on his or her life.
- Encourage the student to assume responsibility for managing his or her situation.
- Encourage the student to think of coping methods that have been effective in the past.
- Take time to follow up with the student.
- If at follow-up the student has made no progress managing their current situation, they may benefit from a CASSC referral.
- We don’t expect faculty and staff to provide counseling, but opening up a dialogue might mean the difference between a person receiving help or not receiving help. A student should be referred to CASSC whenever you believe his or her difficulty has gone beyond their capacity to manage the situation and beyond your own experience and expertise to help. Make a referral here.
As faculty and staff, you are often the first person to see when a student is struggling either personally or academically. If you have concerns about a student and it is a non-emergent situation, please complete our brief online referral form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and a CASSC staff will reach out to the student. Client confidentiality prohibits us from providing you with information about a student you may refer. While we cannot let you know the results of our contact, we may let you know that contact was made or attempted depending on circumstances. You may or may not be contacted to provide any additional information. Please know that any delay in contacting the source of the referral does not indicate a delay in the referral being acted upon
If you consider the situation to be an emergency, call 9-1-1 before contacting CASSC. Do not delay attending to issues that concern safety.
For students who prefer off-campus resources, we can provide you with additional referral information or meet with the student to review available resources. Off-campus resources can also be found here.
Tips for talking with students when making a referral for counseling services:
- Arrange a private time to talk with the student.
- Keep the tone of your talk supportive. Communicate in an "adult-adult" manner rather than resorting to a "parental" or "superior-subordinate" approach.
- Discuss the specific things that you have seen that concern you.
- Let the student respond to your concerns.
- Re-emphasize your care and support, regardless of how he/she responds. Listen.
- Normalize the student’s experiences. You may mention that other students struggle with similar issues and that the multiple stressors associated with attending college can be overwhelming.
- Mention that there are people on campus or in the community who can help and a good starting point is to get connected with the CASSC.
- Let the student know that counseling and student support services are available to currently registered students and are completely FREE! Counseling is confidential, meaning that information about the student cannot be released to you, other offices, family, professors, etc. without the student's written permission.
- Mention that seeing a counselor does not become part of their academic record.
- Once the student has agreed that counseling might be useful, there are several possible steps to take, depending on the student’s attitude and the urgency of the situation.
- Give the student information about CASSC and direct them to our webpage, where they can access more information and request an appointment.
- Offer to let the student call or complete a student self-referral from your office right then, so that a public commitment will be made.
- Complete the faculty/staff referral form for the student and inform them that a CASSC staff will be reaching out.
Although most students are ambivalent about counseling, it is important that the student really wants help. Coercing a student to go to counseling is not likely to have positive results in the long run. Generally, unless there is some immediate concern about the welfare of the student, it is better to try to maintain your relationship with the student rather than forcing them to go to CASSC. The idea can be brought up again later. As always, feel free to consult with CASSC staff before and/or after you speak with the student.
We have a variety of resources available to assist you. If you are interested in our CASSC staff presenting on a particular topic or hosting a workshop for your classroom or staff, we’d love to hear your ideas. Just fill out our Presentation Request.
CASSC provides consultation services about students to the entire campus community. We are glad to answer any questions that you may have about our services, your concerns about a student and referral options. We invite you to call (505-747-5064/ 505-901-1574) or email us at email@example.com.
The CARE Team, or Consultation, Assessment, Referral and Education team, is a part of Northern New Mexico College's Office of Student Affairs.
CARE Team is committed to enhancing the college experience through a proactive, collaborative and thoughtful approach in coordinating support with any situation that could potentially disrupt a student's academic or social wellbeing.
Go to the Care Team Referral Form.
- If this is an emergency please call 9-1-1
- NM Crisis and Access Line: 855-NMCRISIS (855-662-7474) to talk to a professional counselor
- 1-855-227-5485 (TTY) The Warm Line 1-855-466-7100 to access peer support
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255 (TALK)
- AGORA Crisis Center 1-855-505-4505, chat online at www.AgoraCares.org
- For support regarding rape or sexual assault, contact Solace Crisis Treatment Center at 800-721-7273
- For domestic violence, contact Esperanza Shelter 800-473-5220
For our full list of local resources and a comprehensive list of Helplines for a variety of concerns, please check out our NNMC Community Resource Guide.