As faculty and staff, you can play a crucial role in identifying and assisting distressed or disruptive students. If a situation appears imminently life-threatening, call 911 or UCPD (310-825-1491). Peruse these other resources to guide you in helping your students.
See Workshops & Trainings to participate in specialized mental health trainings for faculty and staff.
Download the UCOP Promoting Student Mental Health Guide - A Guide for UC Faculty and Staff. The guide provides in-depth information about mental health and examine the role faculty and staff members can play in providing a supportive academic environment and assisting students who may be in distress. The guide includes examples of what to say when approaching a student, outlines common mental health concerns, explores how culture impacts wellness, explains how to make a referral or report a student of concern, offers instructional tips on how faculty and staff can avoid causing undue stress, includes an FAQ section on our privacy policies, and much much more!
Resources during COVID-19
Faculty & Staff 911 Guide (Red Folder)
This resource guides you in assisting distressed or disruptive students, provides information about CARE (Campus Assault Resources & Education) and provides a detailed response protocol for rape or sexual assault.
Signs & Symptoms of a Student in Distress
Signs of a distressed student generally include extreme emotions, strange behaviors, threatening behaviors and significant changes in usual functioning, which may include:
- Academic Difficulties
- Quality of academic work markedly inconsistent with previous work
- Repeated requests for special consideration, such as incompletes
- Infrequent class attendance with little or no work completed
- Pattern of low grades
- Physical Signs
- Marked changes in personal hygiene or other forms of self-care
- Disheveled or fatigued appearance
- Listlessness, lack of energy
- Dramatic changes in weight
- Social Withdrawal
- Withdrawal from peers, friends and family
- Avoidance of social interaction in general
- Strange Behaviors and Impaired Thinking
- Bizarre or strange behaviors that are obviously inappropriate to the situation
- Incoherent speech
- Delusional thinking, which involves beliefs that are outside of reality
- Agitation, noticeable restlessness
- Unusual difficulties making a decision
- Other behaviors not typical of the student
- Excessive Emotions
- Intense anxiety
- Irritability and anger
- Depressed mood
- Frequent tearfulness and crying spells
- Threatening Statements and Behaviors
- Threats to harm self or others
- Threatening behaviors
- Disruptive behaviors
- Substance Abuse
- Signs of excessive alcohol or drug use
Tips for Helping a Distressed Student
There is no one right formula to follow when responding to a distressed student. What is most important is to approach the student in a calm, gentle manner that conveys genuine concern and a sincere desire to understand and assist. Keep in mind that active listening and being there for the student is most effective in assisting the student. Another key aspect of intervening is to determine how urgent the situation seems to be. The more apparently life-threatening the situation, the more rapidly one needs to intervene in bringing in appropriate resources. If the student appears seriously disoriented or incoherent or if the situation appears imminently life-threatening, the best action to take is to call 911 immediately.
The following guidelines apply when the situation does not appear to be imminently life-threatening:
- Request to speak with the student privately
- Describe the behaviors or signs that concern you
- Listen carefully, avoiding interruptions and asking too many questions
- Show concern and interest
- Repeat back the essence of what the student has told you
- Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental
- Refrain from telling the student what to do
- Assist in identifying options available to the student, including relevant resources available to the student
- Consider CAPS or CRT as a resource and discuss a referral with the student
- If the student resists help and you are worried, contact CAPS or CRT to discuss your concerns
Making a Referral to the Consultation & Response Team (CRT)
UCLA’s Consultation & Response Team (CRT) is a group of professional staff members charged with responding to reports of students who may be in distress. The team is comprised of representatives from key campus departments, such as The College, Dean of Students, CAPS, Residential Life and UCPD. CRT members will balance FERPA, HIPAA, and California State Privacy Law when communicating with UCLA constituents.
Student Care Managers from the CRT are available to meet directly with students or advise campus constituents on how to work with students in distress. They must abide by FERPA laws, which means they are a private, not confidential, resource.
Contact CRT if you are concerned about a student who exhibit any of the following signs.
- Experiencing a decline in work or academic performance
- Skipping class, activities, work or personal commitments
- Demonstrating disruptive or disturbing behavior
- Showing significant changes in appearance, behavior or weight
- Making disturbing comments in conversation, email, letters, social media postings or papers
- Sad, anxious or experiencing dramatic mood shifts
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
- Isolating themselves socially
- Acting paranoid or suspicious
- Frequently angry or easily frustrated
- Struggling with health, finances, or family problems
- Thoughts of harm to self or others (suicidal ideation)
Email CRTeam@ucla.edu for non-emergency situations to reach a Student Care Manager during regular business hours. You may request a Student Care Manager contact you if you prefer a phone consultation or you may suggest a recommendation for Student Care Manager follow up regarding a concerning student. Student Care Managers do not maintain 24 hour access to email or phone. For emergencies, please contact UCPD at (310) 825-1491 or 911, or CAPS (310) 825-0768.
Information to include in your email to CRT:
- Student of concern’s name and ID number (if available)
- A complete description of the incident and/or behavior
- Date, time, location
- Significant, direct quotes
- Witness names and contact information (if available)
- Your name and contact information
- Relevant documents including pictures, texts, emails, social media images, etc.
Making a Referral to CAPS
Students who exhibit signs and symptoms of emotional or mental distress can be referred to CAPS for assessment and counseling.
- Be sensitive to how you make the referral. It is common for students to be ambivalent about seeking professional psychological help. Some students may even be offended, thinking that only weak or abnormal people go to CAPS. Point out that it is natural for all of us to need help one time or another and that a third party listener can sometimes help. It might also be helpful to point out that many students find CAPS helpful and that it is a strength, not a weakness, to face difficulties in one's life. Suggest that the student call CAPS (310-825-0768) or visit during Brief Screen hours (Monday-Friday 9am-4pm).
- Offer to accompany the student to CAPS to provide more direct support. If you escort the student to CAPS it is very helpful if you, with the student's permission and in the student's presence, describe your concerns to a Clinical Coordinator or Brief Screen Counselor.
- Offer to call CAPS while the student is in your office to consult with a Clinical Coordinator regarding options for support.
- Call CAPS and speak to a Clinical Coordinator if you are concerned about a student but are uncertain about the appropriateness of a referral or have other concerns.