Counselling & Personal Development Service - A guide for staff

A Guide for Staff

When to Refer

When personal issues arise in the course of a student's Academic life, there are some indicators which suggest the time to refer to The Counselling and Personal Development Service.

  • When a significant amount of time is been given to addressing the personal issue.
  • When you are unsure of what to do or how to respond.
  • When you feel out of your depth.
  • When the situation is depleting you of your own emotional resources.
  • When you are worried about the student's safety.
  • When you are covering the same ground with the student again and again.
  • When no change is evident.
  • When your suggestions are constantly rejected.
  • If you feel the student is becoming too dependent on you.

Common Signs of Student Distress

Academic Indicators of Student Distress

  • Significant changes in academic performance
  • Sporadic class attendance or absences
  • Frequently missing deadlines
  • Poor concentration
  • Loss of motivation
  • Procrastination 
  • Over working, perfectionism, excessive anxiety about academic work

Physical Signs of Distress

  • Signiciant weight gain or loss
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene or dress
  • Signs of exhaustion, falling asleep in class
  • Smelling of alcohol, cannabis

Behavioural Indicators of Distress

  • Social isolation or withdrawal
  • Excessive dependence on staff
  • Unusual or bizarre behaviour, unexplained crying, laughing, rapid speech, disorganised thinking, suspiciousness, paranoia
  • Incoherent and/or incessant talking
  • Uncharacteristic behaviour; unusually cheerful, agressive, withdrawn, irritable, loud, disinhibited 
  • Disturbing or disruptive behaviour

Emotional Indicators of Distress

  • A marked change in mood
  • Absence of response to normally upsetting events
  • Expressing feelings of worthlessness
  • Appearing tearful, sad, agitated

Distressing Life Events

  • Recent break-up of a close relationship
  • Death or illness of a loved one or significant other
  • A major disappointment, e.g. exam failure
  • Serious interpersonal conflict
  • A trauma: assault, sexual, emotional, physical and/or other abuse
  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • Sexual orientation crisis
  • Legal or disciplinary event
  • Accident illness or material disaster

Other Indicators of Distress

  • Something about the student makes you feel uneasy or concerned
  • Students, staff or relatives telling you there is a difficulty
  • A history of mental health difficulties
  • Evidence of self-harming behaviour or of suicidal ideation or plans.


Additional Information