Faculty and Staff

It can be difficult to know how to respond to a student who shows signs of emotional distress. Every situation is different; the length of time you have known the student, the amount and type of distress the student exhibits, and your own comfort level are just a few of the variables.

  • Don't promise confidentiality. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to contact someone.
  • If the student needs immediate help, access the crisis guidelines on myOakton.
  • Be available, open, and respectful when students report distress.

Remember that your goal is to get the student to a counselor who is trained to handle the situation.

When to refer students to counseling

  • When they are experiencing a significant problem or crisis unrelated to their education — one you don't feel equipped to deal with.
  • When moderate problems persist or become worse, particularly when the student does not appear to be receptive to advice or support.
  • When numerous instances suggest an unwillingness to accept responsibility, and normal disciplinary measures or interventions are ineffective.

How to refer resistant students for counseling

  • Get to know your students and build trust. If a student tends to withdraw during serious discussions, build trust through frequent, informal contacts that are less intense.
  • Try to explore why they are resistant to counseling. Explain how counseling can be used for growth and that these services are meant for all Oakton students — because everyone goes through some difficult times in college.
  • Don't force the idea of counseling prematurely. This may jeopardize your relationship with students and possibly increase resistance.