For Faculty and Staff

Identifying Students in Need

Swarthmore College is a small community in which students, faculty and staff become well-acquainted. Faculty and Staff members interact with students in a variety of ways and may notice when there is a change in a student’s behavior or in their emotional health. Students can exhibit a number of “signals” that they are in distress, including changes in:

  • academic performance
  • personal hygiene
  • self-injury
  • isolation
  • mood shifts

These changes in behavior may be a student’s way of expressing a need or wish for help or assistance and should not be ignored. Faculty and staff members often play an important role in helping the student get support by recognizing signs that they may be in distress, listening when they choose to disclose personal difficulties, and helping connect them to appropriate resources. Students are often not aware of the range of resources on campus, or they may be hesitant to seek out these resources. Having a conversation about the student’s choices can encourage them to take the necessary steps.

How to Get Help For Students in Need

If you are unsure how to approach or to proceed with a student, you may call CAPS to consult with a clinician (x8059). CAPS therapists can take as much information as you wish to share, but will not be at liberty to disclose any personal information about any student. With the information you share, the CAPS therapist will help you think through your options in order to help you plan your response or actions to the situation.

CAPS is unable to seek out students for counseling. Students must be free to choose whether or not counseling is the next best step for them. When students chose to come to CAPS, they are granted confidentiality, meaning their information will not be shared outside of CAPS. The only time confidentiality is broken is when there is credible evidence that the student or someone else’s life is in danger. Otherwise, the student is the only one with the right to share their information.

Faculty and staff can refer a student directly to our office (610.283.8059) or suggest that they make an appointment by emailing or walking in to the office M-F 8:30-4:00. Faculty and staff are also welcome to escort a student to the office if the student agrees.

Distressed Students vs. Distressing Students

Students who are in distress are experiencing emotional pain and are good candidates for counseling. Students who are distressing may also be in emotional pain, yet in addition their behavior is causing other people to be distressed. Students who are distressing may not be fully aware of how they are being perceived by others or how their behavior impacts others. These students often benefit from a collaborative approach which may be initiated by contacting the Dean's Office, OSE, or CAPS.