Concerned for a Student?
Reed faculty and staff are in a unique position to demonstrate compassion for students in distress. Sometimes students cannot or will not turn to family or friends in times of distress. Your expression of concern may be a critical factor in supporting a student’s academic career and their emotional well-being.
Community members are encouraged to talk directly with a student about their concerns, and/or refer the student to the Reed Care Team for support and guidance.
How to Help
For immediate student safety concerns,
call Community Safety at 503-788-6666
Community members are encouraged to talk directly with a student about their concerns. Use the tips below to help you recognize and refer a student to support and resources.
Community members may also contact the Reed Care Team for individualized guidance on how to respond to concerns for students.
Recognizing Signs of Distress
Be aware of the following indicators of distress. Look for grouping, frequency, duration, and severity of these behaviors, not just isolated signs or symptoms.
- Sudden decline in quality of work
- Repeated absences
- Multiple requests for extensions
- Disorganized performance
- Overly demanding of faculty or staff attention
Safety Risk Indicators
- Unprovoked anger or hostility
- Implying or making a direct threat to harm self or others
- Academic assignments dominated by themes of extreme hopelessness, suicidal ideations, or violent behaviors
- Physical aggression or violence
- Harassing, intimidating, or stalking behaviors
- Threatening speech or other communications
- Damage to property or other disruptive acts
- Verbal confrontations
- Self disclosure of personal distress
- Bizarre content in writings or in class
- Excessive tearfulness, panic reactions, irritability, or unusual apathy
- Verbal abuse
- Unusual/disproportionate emotional response to events
- Expressions of concern about the student by their peers
- Grandiosity or euphoria
- Rapid mood changes or emotional instability
- Obvious signs of recent and significant self-injury
- Marked changes in physical appearance, including deterioration in grooming or hygiene
- Agitated behavior, such as restlessness or pacing
- Rapid, loud, or pressured speech
- Excessive fatigue
- Intoxication, hangover, or smelling of alcohol/marijuana
- Disoriented, bizarre, or out-of-context behavior
How to Help
Community members are encouraged to talk directly with a student about their concerns whenever possible. Use the tips below to help you refer a student to support and resources. Community members may also contact the Reed Care Team for individualized guidance on how to respond to concerns for students.
- Seek suggestions from experienced colleagues, department chair, or supervisor.
- Allow sufficient time to thoroughly address the issues of concern.
- Review your physical environment. Make provisions for your safety and that of others. If necessary, notify colleagues in close proximity of your intended intervention.
- If you decide not to have direct contact with the student, inform the proper individuals or departments of your concerns.
Listen and Connect
- Respect the student’s privacy without making false promises about confidentiality.
- Listen supportively. Repeat the student’s concerns back to them to clarify and to demonstrate an understanding of the student’s perspective.
- Do not challenge or become argumentative with the student.
- Do not try to minimize the student’s distress.
- If safe, meet and talk in private to minimize embarrassment and defensiveness.
- Clearly express your concerns in non-disparaging terms.
- Ask if the student wants to hurt anyone—self or others. Asking does not plant ideas in the student’s mind.
- Offer supportive alternatives, resources, and referrals.
- Emphasize the option and importance of professional help for the student.
- Document all incidents and attempts to resolve the situation.
- Be factual and objective.
Refer to Resources and Follow Up
- Recommend resources. Provide the student with realistic expectations. Note that some campus resources can offer confidential support while others are required to respond or report. See Confidentiality & Obligatory Reporting.
- Be honest with the student about your limits. This includes time limits and limits in counseling expertise.
- Frame any decision to seek and accept help as a good choice.
- Make sure the student understands next steps. Encourage them to make and keep appointments with the referral resources.
- Set a follow-up appointment with the student.
Where to Refer a Student
Community members can refer a student to the Reed Care Team for assistance connecting to campus resources, or find relevant resources through the following campus directories:
- Student Hub: Comprehensive list of campus academic, financial, and other administrative resources
- Student Support Resources: Comprehensive list of mental health and wellness resources, including counseling and crisis services
Confidentiality & Obligatory Reporting
Health & Counseling Center
If you have a student in distress, you may want to encourage the student to seek help at the HCC. Please be aware that the standards for confidentiality for staff in the HCC are different from those for other college staff and faculty. The staff of the HCC will not share any information about the student, or even confirm that the student scheduled or attended an appointment, unless the student provides explicit, written authorization to do so (except in situations of extreme emergency). The staff in the HCC will consult with you regarding your concerns for a student, but they will not provide information about an individual student.
Reed College encourages all members of the community to report violations or possible violations of the Title IX and/or Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct policy policies. However, certain employees and students must report. The college has designated the following representatives as obligated reporters of possible violations of the Title IX and/or DHSM policies:
- Staff and faculty who supervise the work of another staff, faculty, or student worker
- The Director and staff members of Community Safety
- Student and staff members of the Sexual Misconduct Board
If you are an obligated reporter and you think a student may disclose a sexual assault, state that you are obligated to report this to the college and offer to refer them to a confidential resource. Report the disclosure within 24 hours to the Title IX coordinator at 503-517-4842 or email@example.com. Visit Title IX for more information on who must report and how to make a report to the Title IX Coordinator.