Students in Distress

The Eastman Student Support Network consists of the Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs, the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs, the Assistant Dean for Residential Life, and the Assistant Dean for Student Life. These administrators connect with a comprehensive array of campus offices and departments. The purpose of the Eastman Student Support Network is to identify students and issues that may need attention, support, or other intervention. The Eastman Student Support Network meets formally on a regular basis. Its members hold themselves to the very highest ethical standards, sharing information confidentially among Eastman staff and faculty on a “need-to-know” basis only. The Eastman Student Support Network provides an opportunity for Eastman staff to communicate effectively toward developing strategies in accordance with the policies of the Eastman School.

In addition to faculty, the Eastman Student Support Network regularly communicates with the following offices: University Counseling Center, University Health Service, International Services Office, University Intercessor, Coordinator of Disability Resources, University Security Services, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, the Registrar, the Bursar, and Financial Aid.

A variety of intervention strategies and mechanisms are available to this group, including (but not limited to) case conferences, mandated assessments, behavioral contracts, various leave of absence options, and disciplinary action. Any faculty or staff member can share information with any member of the Eastman Student Support Network, and that member will bring the information to the group for discussion and possible intervention.

When a Student Needs Counseling

Some signs that a student may be experiencing more stress than she/he can handle might include the following:

  • Marked decline in quality of course work, class participation, quality of papers or test results, increased absence from class or failure to turn in work.
  • Prolonged depression, suggested by a sad expression, apathy, weight loss, sleep difficulties, or tearfulness.
  • Nervousness, agitation, excessive worry, irritability, aggressiveness, or nonstop talking.
  • Bizarre or strange behavior, speech, writing, or thinking.
  • Extreme dependency on faculty or staff, including spending much of his/her spare time visiting during office hours or at other times.
  • Marked change in personal hygiene.
  • Talk of suicide, either directly or indirectly, such as, “I won’t be around to take that exam anyway” or “I’m not worried about getting a job, I won’t need one.”

Making a Referral

You should consider referring a student for psychological counseling when you believe a student’s problems go beyond your own experience and expertise or when a student indicates that she/he is looking for someone with whom to talk.

One way of introducing the topic of a referral to the University Counseling Center (UCC) or any other office is to summarize for the student what you see as the content of the problem. Point out the emotional responses that you have heard from the student, perhaps with an expression of concern. For example, “You sound very upset about that. I have heard that other students who have felt that way have benefited from talking to someone at the Counseling Center. How would you feel about that?”
If a student is reluctant to seek counseling, explain to the student that counseling is not only for very disturbed people. Most students come to UCC because they are unhappy with what is happening in their lives. Counseling provides a chance to explore feelings and solve problems with the help of an objective, sensitive and concerned listener.

Counseling works best when the student actually wants help, so coercing a student to go to UCC does not work. If you are wondering about the seriousness of a problem or if a student is ambivalent, call a University Counseling Center (275-3113) staff member to discuss what next steps you might take.

Once a student contacts UCC, an appointment will be scheduled. The appointment will usually take place within a few days of the time the student makes contact, depending largely on the flexibility of the student’s schedule.

After Making the Referral

It is reassuring to know that a student you have referred has actually made and kept an appointment. The best way to achieve this reassurance is to ask the student directly. This is also a way of showing continuing concern for the student. We will urge the student to confirm this with you. Concurrently, but secondarily, we will seek the student’s permission to contact you directly for this purpose.

There will be times, however, when the student will not want to share this information with you. In these instances, you must respect the student’s wish for confidentiality, despite the uneasiness this creates.

What Information Faculty, Staff, and Parents Can Expect

The University of Rochester and the Eastman School of Music are bound by law to protect a student’s privacy in many matters by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA). The Eastman School’s aim is to be as helpful and responsive to students, faculty, and staff members as the law will allow. We encourage Eastman School of Music personnel to make every effort to communicate with students to provide the extra support and care often needed when students are away from home. Because we cannot guarantee being able to inform faculty and staff when a student’s health and safety is affected, it is our policy to encourage students to notify family members themselves. At the student’s request, we can notify faculty of any hospitalizations, short-term physical injuries, and excused absences. For more specific information, please contact the Office of Academic Affairs, the Office of Student Life, or the University Counseling Center.

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Additional Resources and Important Numbers