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Faculty and Staff FAQ

Home 9 Resources 9 Resources for Faculty & Staff 9 Faculty and Staff FAQ

What are signs and symptoms to look out for that might indicate a student is in distress? What do I do if the student has these symptoms?

 Here are common behaviors that are observed when students are in trouble:

o   Erratic or infrequent class or work attendance

o   Poor academic work or a significant decline in job performance (e.g., repeated requests for extensions on deadlines or incomplete work)

o   Falling asleep or preoccupied in class or at work

o   Emotionally flat and unresponsive; unmotivated (e.g., decline in class participation, socially withdrawn from class)

o   Apparent drug or alcohol use

o   Highly anxious or excessive mood change(s)

o   Disclosure of a distressing event that is overwhelming the student

o   Excessive appointments made with you

o   Dramatic change in appearance (e.g., poor hygiene, skeletal appearance)

o   Agitated, irritable, aggressive, harassing, or hostile behavior (*Call UCI PD if the student is acting in a potentially dangerous manner.)

o   Violent or disturbing written work

o   Abnormal speech (e.g., rapid, incoherent, tangential, hostile, or grandiose)

o   Talk of hopeless and helpless feelings

If you are concerned about a student who is exhibiting several of these symptoms, you can express your concern to them and offer to help them get connected to the Counseling Center, or you can consult with the Counseling Center to identify options for supporting the student.

The Counseling Center also offers workshops on working with suicidal students (QPR). Please contact the Counseling Center if you are interested in having this training offered to you and your department. You can find more information about QPR on our Suicide Prevention page.

What do I do if a student seems to be out of control, violent or in danger of physically harming him/herself or others?

If a student is putting themselves or others at imminent risk, do not hesitate to call the UC Irvine Police at (949) 824-5222 or at 9-1-1 on a campus landline. The police are well trained to assess the situation and to handle all emergencies including the psychological ones. They are practiced at conducting welfare checks and initiating hospitalizations, if warranted. If the police think consultation with the mental health professionals on campus would be helpful, they will engage and enlist these professionals. If time permits in a crisis situation, they may recommend a meeting of the UC Irvine Consultation Team.

How do you decide what services are appropriate for a student?

 Our services can be described as short-term, free, and confidential. However, because most of our therapists are generalists, we may need to refer students to community providers if they have had a history of benefitting from long-term therapy or if their presenting concerns may need more specialized care (e.g., eating disorders, substance abuse, actively suicidal for a long time, etc.). We talk with the student during the initial assessment visit about their concerns and decide together after that meeting what would be in the student’s best interest.

What are the limits on confidentiality in counseling?

 A student’s privacy rights are protected by both federal and state laws. Prior to beginning counseling, the student is provided information about counseling services including the limits of confidentiality. S/he has the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the information and then gives signed consent to participate in counseling. What a student shares in psychotherapy is confidential unless the student is deemed to be a danger to himself or others or is gravely disabled (i.e., unable to provide food, clothing, or shelter). Therapists are also required to file a report if the abuse of a child, an elderly person, a developmentally disabled or a dependent adult is revealed. A student may also be required to waive his/her rights to privacy if s/he is engaged in a legal situation in which s/he is suing another party for emotional damages. In such a situation, there may be a court-issued subpoena for the student’s record. Otherwise no information is provided to anyone outside of the Counseling Center without a signed authorization to release information by the student.

Understandably, faculty are often interested in whether a student has followed through on his/her recommendation to seek mental health treatment. However, because of students’ privacy rights, mental health providers can neither confirm nor deny that the student has sought or is in treatment. In order to respond to the referring faculty member’s request, the student must sign a consent form that allows the mental health provider to release information about the student.

How do I consult with someone at the Counseling Center?

The Counseling Center is open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 5 pm, excluding federal and university holidays. You may call the office at 949-824-6457 during business hours, identify yourself as a staff or faculty member, and state that you want to consult with a psychologist regarding a student of concern. You will then be connected to the next available therapist. If you need to consult with someone in the evening or the weekend, you may call 929-824-6457 and press option 2, and you will be connected to our ProtoCall after hours service, and you will be able to consult with a therapist at that time, and a member of the Counseling Center staff will follow up with you the next business day. You may also walk a student to our office if they are willing to schedule an appointment or talk with a therapist if they are currently in crisis.

How do I talk with a student in distress? What do I say and not say? How do I convince a student to seek help?

Here are some tips on how to talk to a student in distress.

  • Start with an open and accepting stance towards the student and what the student is sharing with you; engage in actively listening to understand rather than to respond. 
  • In providing support, do not provide overgeneralized or easy statements such as “everything will be fine” or “it will all get better soon.”
  • In providing support, do not promise secrecy or offer confidentiality as it is most likely that you cannot guarantee either. 
  • Focus on the aspects of the concern that are manageable/controllable rather than getting caught up in what is not manageable/controllable. 
  • Help the student reflect/think about coping strategies/methods that worked in the past and how they can use them in the present to reduce distress/address their concern. 
  • Encourage the student to seek help by sharing with them how their concerns can be addressed by different resources on campus (e.g., counseling center, DSC, CARE, LARC, etc.)
  • Provide them with information on how to find and utilize these resources; if you feel comfortable, you can also help clients call or reach out to these services in the moment with you as a support rather than at later time
  • Finally, respect a student’s values/beliefs/ way of coping even if they differ from your own values/beliefs. 
  • See our How to Refer a student for further tips to help students in distress. 

What do I do if a student declines help or does not want to seek counseling?

Here is some things you can do if a student declines help:

  • Explore what the hesitation is for the student and address the reasons, myths and misperceptions with facts, normalization, and validation of their concerns 
  • Engage in mythbusting common myths about therapy such as a student is “weak or crazy” for seeking counseling/ seeking help 
  • Sometimes students worry about cost or privacy, remind students UCI Counseling Center services are free and confidential.
  • If the student still does not want counseling/help, entrust that you have done everything you can to help the student. 
  • If you are worried a student may be a harm to self or others:
    • If immediate danger, call 911
    • If not, call counseling center to further consult on steps you can take 

What are the warning signs for risk/safety concerns? What do I do if I am concerned about a student’s safety?

Warning Signs *: 

    • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
    • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
    • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
    • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
    • Talking about being a burden to others
    • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
    • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
    • Sleeping too little or too much
    • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
    • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
    • Extreme mood swings

* based on information from the National Suicide Hotline (

  • Share your concerns with student and describe the behaviors/situations that make you concerned
  • If you are concerned that student may be thinking of ending life, ask directly if student is contemplating suicide (asking about sucide does not lead a student to think/do more about it; the myth that it does is unfounded) 
  • Connect student to appropriate resources:
    • If immediate danger, call 911 
    • If not, provide information about on-campus resources, such as the Counseling Center, Campus Social work, etc. 
    • If you are unsure what resources would be appropriate, consult with the counseling center or refer student to counseling center which can direct them to the appropriate resource 
  •   The Counseling Center also offers workshops on working with suicidal students (QPR). Please contact the Counseling Center if you are interested in having this training offered to you and your department. You can find more information go to our Suicide Prevention page. 

Where can I find mental health support as a Faculty/Staff member?

 The Counseling Center is funded primarily by student registration fees so we are not able to provide clinical services to faculty and staff on a regular basis.Faculty and staff who are seeking assistance for their own personal mental health needs have several options for how best to connect to the services they need.

See the link below for more information about mental health resources go to the Faculty/Staff Support Services page. 

Weathering the Weather

It is getting closer to the holiday break and the end is in sight! Soon we will be with family and friends and getting some much-needed relaxation after the start to the quarter! Phew!

While this time can be something to look forward to, it is important to still be aware of caring for your mental health. Here are some things to consider as we reach the end of the year!

Summer Reflection

Summer is a great time to reflect on all the things you have done and learned along the way, and to also consider what areas you would like to grow into as you transition into the next academic year.

Take time to reflect, and perhaps even journal out your thoughts:

How to Improve Relationship with Food

Are you struggling with your relationship with food? In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week that occurs Feb. 21st- Feb. 27th here are 7 tips that will help you improve your relationship with food:

1. Be aware that there are NO “good” foods and “bad” foods. All foods provide nutrition and sustenance to the body and our bodies need protein, carbohydrate, fiber, and even sugar and fat to survive. All foods are good if you eat a variety of foods to get all of the nutrients that you need in moderation….