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Working with Students in Distress

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on July 29, 2010 at 4:14:47 pm

Because university and college policy and procedures carry very specific deadlines and criteria for compliance, you should never encourage a student to pursue a certain course of action--e.g., "stick it out," "get a drop in the dean's office"--without at least referring them to an academic advisor for consideration of the implications for the student. Suggesting particular courses of action could jeopardize the student's academic, financial, and legal situation, in spite of the best intentions on your part. Should problems arise in relation to the situation for which you tendered advice, the dean will not allow the student relief on the grounds that you counseled the particular action.


The university provides many options for dealing with students in distress.


Liberal Arts Student Division

If you think a student should drop a course or withdraw from the university, direct him/her to the Student Division advising office ("dean's office") in GEB 2.306. If the student reports vague, non-threatening personal, financial, or legal problems, likewise refer him/her to the Student Division. Student Division advisors are trained to make appropriate referrals where necessary.


Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC)

The Counseling and Mental Health Center provides a Web site as a reference for faculty who are working with students in distress or in crisis, www.cmhc.utexas.edu/studentindistress.html . This page offers tips for recognizing serious issues and pointers for approaching students about their well-being. CMHC is located in SSB, 5th floor, and is open 8 a.m - 5 p.m.; their 24-hour counseling/ referral line may be reached at 471-CALL (2255).


Behavior Concerns Advice Line (BCAL)

For students in distress but not an immediate threat, contact the 24-hour Behavior Concerns Advice Line (BCAL) at 512-232-5050. According to Counseling and Mental Health's Web site, "The BCAL line was developed by The university in order to provide a central resource for those who are concerned about an individual and are not sure how to help them."


UT/Austin Police Department (UTPD/APD)

If you believe a student presents an immediate threat to self, others, or property, call 911 immediately. A campus phone will connect you with UTPD and an off-campus phone will connect you with APD; in an emergency it does not matter which you call.


Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

EAP can help you in the aftermath of having dealt with a difficult student situation. They may be reached at 512-471-3366 during office hours, or 512-471-3399 for urgent situations after hours. Individual consultations and referrals are available on a confidential basis.




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