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For Faculty and Staff

student in distress

Supporting a Student in Distress 

As a faculty or staff member of Moravian University students view you as a source of instruction, assistance, and sometimes personal support. In your conversations some students will naturally share their successes and academic pressures and a few will share their personal stories. Other students won't intentionally share their difficulties with you but you may notice indirectly expressed signs of personal problems. Responding to students in distress can be confusing and overwhelming. The information below offers some guidelines and tips on supporting and referring a student in distress. 

If a student comes to you with a problem: 

  • Thank them for being vulnerable and sharing their problem
  • Listen in a non-judgmental way and express your concern for them
  • Help the student feel heard by using active listening skills 

If you notice a student who may be in distress: 

  • Approach the student directly and ask to speak in private to eliminate any embarrassment or defensiveness 
  • Explain to the student that you are concerned and provide specific observations that are contributing to your concern
  • Offer support and allow the student to share their concerns, if they choose 

Signs of student in distress: 

Faculty and staff members play a key role in identifying students in distress and even though every situation is different there are common warning signs that students often exhibit when facing challenges. 

Behavioral Changes

Physical changes

Emotional changes

→ Frequent absences
→ Decline in academic performance
→ Disruptive behavior
→ Requests for special accommodations
→ References to suicide or homicide

→ Disordered eating
→ Physical appearance
→ Poor hygiene
→ Persistent exhaustion
→ Complaints of headaches or stomach problems 

→ Anxious
→ Confused
→ Withdrawn
→ Unusually elated

When and How to Refer

Faculty and Staff Student Refer Guide 

Is the student in immediate danger? 

What to do? What to do? What to do?
Student's conduct is clearly reckless, disorderly, dangerous and/or threatening and suggestive of immediate danger to self or others in the community Signs of distress are visible but severity is unclear. The interaction has left you feeling uneasy or concerned about the student and you are not sure how to proceed.You are not concerned for the student's immediate safety but they are having academic or personal issues and could use support. 
Call Campus Police (610-861-1421) or dial 911Submit SHARE report and/or consult with Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) Post a Momentum Flag for academic concerns and/or turn to our Resources and Referrals webpage  and connect students appropriately

Additional Resources 

CAPS Consultations 

CAPS staff provides support, education, and coordination of care to faculty and staff to help support students who are in need of assistance. 

To schedule a consultation: 

Mental Health Advocate Training 

CAPS staff offers Mental Health Advocate training for the Moravian community. In order to sign up for this training please email or visit the Mental Health Advocate training course in Canvas. 

Resources and Referrals

For a list of mental health campus resources, community referrals, and crisis resources please see our Resources and Referrals webpage