Student Counseling Services

Faculty / Staff Guide

Staying Alert for the Warning Signs

As a faculty member, administrator or member of the Hofstra University community, you are often the person who has the most direct contact with students on a day-to-day basis. As such, you may be the first person to notice a change in a student’s usual mood or behavior. The student may initially feel more comfortable talking to you about their concerns than to other staff they have not met previously.

This brief guide is intended to help you recognize some of the issues that may affect students. When a problem exceeds your ability to help, we encourage you to consider the following possible steps:

  • Give the student information about Student Counseling Services (SCS) and urge the student to call or stop by.
  • Allow the student to call SCS from your office immediately.
  • Offer to walk to SCS with the student to set up an appointment.
  • Follow up with the student several days later to ascertain if contact with SCS was helpful.

General signs that a student may be in distress include:

  • Significant shifts in mood
  • Constant exaggerated worrisome thoughts
  • Odd or unusual behavior or speech
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Changes in personal appearance and sleep habits
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Restricting food intake
  • Engaging in vomiting, use of laxatives or other compensatory behaviors in order to prevent weight gain
  • Increasing use of alcohol or other substances
  • Chronic physical symptoms such as fatigue, trembling, tension headaches or nausea
  • Extremely agitated speech or behavior
  • Frequent trouble with campus authorities

Signs of Dangerousness

  • Talking openly (or on social media) about suicide or self-harm
  • Expressions of hopelessness
  • Taking unnecessary or life-threatening risks
  • Having attempted suicide in the past
  • Engaging in self-injurious behaviors
  • A verbalized threat or hostile gesture toward an individual, department, or group 
  • Persistent interest or reference to violent themes or a history of violent acts

Fast Facts on College Students:
National data collected by the American College Health Association

  • 10.9% identified relationship difficulties adversely impacting their academic performance in the past year
  • 20.5% reported being diagnosed or treated for a mental health condition during the past year
  • 11.8% reported feeling overwhelmed by anxiety within the past month
  • 62.7% reported feeling tired, dragged out or sleepy on three or more days during the past week
  • 22.2 percent reported sleep difficulties negatively affecting their academic performance
  • 16.6% reported that the death of a family member or friend during the past 12 months had been traumatic or very difficult to handle
  • 17.5% reported that they consumed seven or more drinks with alcohol the last time they socialized
  • 31.6% reported feeling so depressed that it was difficult to function at some time during the past 12 months
  • 5.8% reported intentionally cutting, burning, bruising or otherwise injuring themselves at some time within the last 12 months
  • 7.5% reported that they seriously considered suicide at some point in the past 12 months

Results from American College Health Association – National College Health Assess