A psychological crisis is a life event that an individual perceives as stressful to the extent that normal coping mechanisms are insufficient. The SBIT Team is determined to be the forefront of providing individual counseling, guidance, and referring students to the most appropriate resources available both on campus and off campus.Types of Crises
Irrational or inappropriate behavior causing disruption in or outside the classroom, i.e., inappropriate focusing of attention on self in class, going on and on about personal life in class, repeatedly taking class focus off track.Ask to speak to student privately and confidentially. Indicate concern for the student’s welfare and ask what started his/her reaction. Listen and determine whether the student needs to be referred to counseling for further assessment. When the time is right, state your rules for acceptable behavior in the class and set limits. If disruptive behavior continues, after a warning, the matter should be referred to the Office of Student Rights, Responsibilities and advocacy. (718) 482-5180
If a student starts to tell you that he/she has suffered abuse, as a child (while under the age of 18) stop the student from revealing this unless he/she is willing to have the information reported to the authorities. The law requires that a report be made to the authorities which identifies the perpetrator, especially if he/she is still around children. If the abuse occurred as an adult, a complaint is up to the victim. Please refer the student to a SBIT member or contact a SBIT member to report information.
Exaggerated fear of failing, nervousness and difficulty in concentrating, tendency to overreact with fear, or manic talking or frenzied activity. Ask to speak to student privately and confidentially. Indicate concern for the student’s welfare and ask if he/she is aware of the behavior. Listen and determine whether the student needs to be referred to counseling for further assessment. Inform the student that this college has trained professional help available. Refer the student to a crisis counselor for an interview and assistance. If the situation is extreme and the student seems to need immediate help, walk him/her to the counselor’s office for an appointment.DO:
Distortion of reality, i.e., belief that they are being singled out, or that they are super special individuals with special gifts or talents, or that the instructor is deliberately mistreating them. Students may also go on and on about becoming a star or going into movies or getting a scholarship to an Ivy League schools, etc.Consult with a crisis counselor regarding the student. The counselor can subsequently come to the class on some pretext to observe. An interview can be arranged if the behavior does seem aberrant.
Evidence of Depression: sudden change in interest in class, flattened feelings, sad or fatigued, complaints of insomnia, and loss of desire to be in school or with friends.Ask to speak to the student privately and confidentially. Indicate concern for the student’s welfare and ask if he/she is aware of the behavior. Listen and determine whether the student needs to be referred to counseling for further assessment. Inform the student that this college has trained professional help available. Refer the student to a crisis counselor for an interview and assistance. If the situation is extreme and the student seems to need immediate help, walk him/her to the counseling office for an appointment.DO:
Refusing to follow directions or behaving disruptively in class, refusing to leave when asked, refusing to adhere to class rules.Ask the person in a calm manner to talk to you privately away from peers. If this fails to produce acceptable behavior, end the class for the day and contact a crisis counselor for assistance. If the student seems to be going out of control, call the campus police to handle it.
Somewhat glazed expression, a lack of appropriate affect when talking, difficulty in listening with concentration, literally complains of disorientation, or exhibits chronic self talk, hearing voices, or seeing things that aren’t there.Consult with a crisis counselor regarding the student. The counselor can subsequently come to the class on some pretext to observe. An interview can be arranged if the behavior does seem aberrant.If the student’s behavior is disrupting class, it may be appropriate to call for immediate assistance.DO:
Cussing or talking loudly, arguing instead of discussing, challenging everything that is presented as wrong, or out of control yelling in anger.Take precautions to take care of yourself and others in the situation if the person is behaving menacingly. Ask the student to talk privately away from the group and try to calm him/her down. If the behavior continues out of control, call the campus police and report the matter to the Office of Student Rights, Responsibilities and advocacy. (718) 482-5180DO:
A sudden change in attitude from normal to unfocused, preoccupied, or poor performance might be caused by depression. Distress is usually caused by personal problems that seem overwhelming and anxiety is one form of distress that may stem from school related or personal concerns.Talk to the student privately by indicating that you have noticed a change in their manner or behavior and inquire if there is something that they might need help with. Often the student will open up, in which case, listen empathetically and suggest that we have services through the counseling department which might help them. Then, refer the student to a crisis counselor. You might consult with the counselor as an intermediary step.If the student resists or assures you that there is nothing going on to cause concern, respect his/her judgment and thank them for responding to your inquiry. You might consult with a counselor anyway to note if the student may be simply resisting, and for information for what to observe for in the immediate future which may indicate more serious problems.
A student complains to you that another student has been making demeaning remarks or treating her/him in an unacceptable manner.Listen to the student and refer the matter to Office of Student Rights, Responsibilities and advocacy. (718) 482-5180
Sexual harassment involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical contact; it is usually found in the context of a relationship of unequal power, rank or status. It does not matter that the person’s intention was not to harass. It is the effect it has on others that counts. As long as the conduct interferes with a student’s academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive learning environment, it is considered sexual harassment.Sexual harassment usually is not an isolated one-time-only case but a repeated pattern of behavior that may include:
Sexual Harassment is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. Common reactions of students who have been harassed is to doubt their perceptions, wondering if it was a joke, did it really happen or, if in some way, they have brought it on themselves. A student may begin to participate less in the classroom, avoid or drop classes, or even change majors.DO:
Disrupting class with irrelevant talk or disturbing others, occupying areas not meant for loitering, sitting on cafeteria tables, or smoking in prohibited areas.If it is a one-time incident, tell the student or students that smoking is prohibited in that area. If one persists, talk privately to the person and indicate that a referral to the Office of Student Rights, Responsibilities and advocacy. (718) 482-5180 will become necessary if he/she persists. Please report misconduct resulting in Injury or Damage to Property Throwing objects, applying graffiti, scratching cars, smashing plants, etc. to the campus police (718) 482-5555
Difficulty in concentrating, freezing up on tests, or chronic personal problems which distract him/her from adequate academic performance.Discuss the problem and explore the nature of the concerns together. Personal problems may be resolved with information to manage them, e.g., in the case of test anxiety, a short term course on test taking may be needed. However, difficulty in concentrating may be caused by concerns that may pass or could indicate more serious problems. If it seems to be the latter, a referral to a crisis counselor would be in order. Always provide follow-up sessions to show support for the student’s well being.
Post traumatic stress disorder occurs when a person suffers an unexpected psychological shock.Many throughout the country suffered this after the 9/11 attack. The symptoms can be insomnia with flashbacks, unexplained anxiety, mild depression, exaggerated vigilance for danger, and/or withdrawal from normal activities. Assault victims, or even the witness of a tragic incident can cause traumatic stress. Many may suffer this from involvement with our war on Iraq.Unusual fears or anxiety during this war period may be symptoms of traumatic stress disorder and could benefit from counseling. Consult with a SBIT Member to determine what might help, i.e., coming to class to discuss reactions to the war and the violence or fear of terrorist attacks, or seeing students for individual counseling.
Listen supportively and observe for quality of state of mind, i.e., depressed, suicidal potential, anxiety or rage. Advise of the right to file a complaint. Inform him/her of rape victim support services.
Alcohol is the most widely used psychoactive drug. It is common to find alcohol abusers in college populations also abusing other drugs, both prescription and illicit. Patterns of use are affected by fads and peer pressure. Currently, alcohol is the preferred drug on college campuses.The effects of alcohol on the user are well known to most of us. Alcohol abuse by a student is most often identified by faculty. Irresponsible, unpredictable behavior affecting the learning situation (i.e., drunk and disorderly in class), or a combination of the health and social impairments associated with alcohol abuse noticeably sabotages student performance.Because of denial that exists in most substance abusers, it is important to express your concern to the student in terms of specific changes in behavior/performance rather than terms of suspicions about alcohol/drug abuse.DO:
Always take threats seriously and get help immediately. Listen supportively and contact the Office of Student Rights, Responsibilities and advocacy. (718) 482-5180. The general suicide hotline number is 1-800-784-2433/ (212) 673-3000/ 1-800-999-9999/ 1-800-273-8255 Ask the student for the names of individuals who can follow up observing this person through the next day. If suicide seems imminent, ask if he/she is willing to commit himself/herself to a mental health hospital for observation and treatment. If the person is not willing, consider whether or not to call the campus police at ext. 5555DO:
Typically, even the utmost time and energy given to these students is not enough. They often seek to control your time and unconsciously believe the amount of time received is a reflection of their worth. You may find yourself increasingly drained and feeling responsible for this student in a way that is beyond your normal involvement. It is important that this student be connected with many resources of support on-campus and in the community in general.DO:
Violence, because of emotional distress, is rare and typically occurs when the student’s level of frustration has been so intense or of such an enduring nature as to erode all of the student’s emotional controls. The adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” best applies here. This behavior is often associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs.DO:
Death in the family, spousal abuse, being evicted, being fired, loss of a pregnancy, death of a class member, divorce, etc.Approach the student privately before or after class and indicate your concern. In some cases, the student may approach you to reveal that he/she was absent due to something you see as traumatic. This allows you a means of inquiring how the student is coping with the situation. Indicate to the student that this incident may be more serious than it appears and offer the resources of our crisis counseling services. If a student in the class dies, you can contact a member of the Student Behavioral Intervention Team to determine the best way to support other students in the class.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER TO REFER STUDENTS TO ONE OF THE SBIT MEMBERS OR TO THE OFFICE OF STUDENT RIGHTS, RESPONSIBILITIES, AND ADVOCACY. (718) 482-5180