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Other Kinds of Problems

Within an academic setting, the students who are often viewed as emotionally distressed are depressed, anxious, shy, or struggling with drug or alcohol problems. The following guide provides a brief description and some suggestions for helping these students. There are, of course, other issues students need help with (e.g., eating disorders, adapting to a new culture/environment).

 If you have any questions about helping students with any kind of problem, call the Counseling Center at x8331 or (626) 395-8331.


The Depressed Student

Students who are depressed may experience a wide range of symptoms including difficulty concentrating, low energy, loss of motivation, loss of interest in things once thought to be pleasurable, depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness, withdrawal, feelings of inadequacy, excessive guilt, change in appetite and/or sleeping patterns, and possibly self-destructive thoughts, including suicide.

What to Do:

  • Encourage the student to share what s/he is experiencing and feeling.
  • Share your concern.
  • Listen for suicidal thoughts or intentions, and if you are concerned about the possibility, ask directly whether the student has thoughts or a plan to kill him/herself.
  • Recommend that the student seek counseling.

What to Avoid:

  •  Minimizing the situation or discounting the student’s feelings, saying only things like "Don't worry." or "It will be better tomorrow."
  • Assuming that all students who are depressed are also suicidal. If you are concerned about the possibility, ask.

The Anxious or Shy Student

Students who are anxious appear tense, nervous, self-conscious or uncomfortable. Decision making can be difficult. Unknown and unfamiliar situations, as well as high and unreasonable expectations, can raise a student's apprehension and worry.

What to Do:

  • Be patient.
  • Be clear and explicit about your expectations.
  • Encourage the student to discuss his/her feelings and thoughts. This alone can relieve a great deal of anxiety.
  • Reassure when appropriate.
  • Ask the student what s/he has done to try to improve his/her situation.
  • If the student hasn't sought counseling, recommend that s/he does so.
  • Being judgmental or critical.
  • Getting caught up and lost in the student's anxiety.
  • Disregarding the student's feelings.

What to Avoid:

  • Being judgmental or critical.
  • Getting caught up and lost in the student's anxiety.
  • Disregarding the student's feelings.


The Student with Drug or Alcohol Problems

Students with a substance-abuse problem may experience difficulty in many areas: academic performance, relationships, and health. Students who are abusing or misusing alcohol or other drugs are often hesitant to seek help, and need specialized, accessible services. If you are concerned that a student may have a drug or alcohol problem, it's important to encourage the student to seek help because of the potential negative effects on this student's overall functioning and emotional well-being.

What to Do:

  • You may call the Counseling Center for a consultation if you are concerned about a student but are uncertain about making a referral, or if a student seems reluctant to seek help.
  • Consider assisting the student in making an appointment by calling the Counseling Center at x8331 or (626) 395-8331 while the student is in your office.

What to Avoid:

  • Ignoring or minimizing symptoms or signs of a drug or alcohol problem.
  • Judging or preaching.
  • Assuming the problem is temporary.


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