Making a Kean Counseling Center Referral
Promote Appropriate Boundaries
One part of creating a strong mental health safety net is educating students, faculty, staff and families about the signs and symptoms of emotional problems and actions to take if they are concerned about a student. Faculty, students or other non-healthcare personnel should not serve in the capacity of a health/mental health professional. In particular, untrained individuals ought never to assume responsibility for a student who poses a risk of suicide or violence. For example, it is not legally advisable to ask resident assistants, friends, or roommates to “watch” a student who may be at risk. Similarly, faculty and staff should avoid taking on a professional role for which they are not trained, as this may inadvertently cause several issues:
- students can become emotionally attached to staff members and then may be less willing to engage with a trained counselor, which can delay the student receiving appropriate treatment and potentially put the student at risk,
- non-trained staff members may be inadvertently putting themselves and the University at risk of liability should the student become harmed, and
- staff members themselves may experience increased emotional distress due to having taken on the responsibility for the student’s welfare. Non-mental health professionals need to be aware of formal support services (Kean Counseling Center, Office of Disability Services, CAS, tutoring, etc.) available to students and focus on making appropriate referrals.
Easily recognizable indicators that a student may be experiencing more stress than he or she can handle include:
- Marked decline in quality of coursework, class participation, quality of papers or test results, increased absence from class or failure to turn in work.
- Excessive/repetitive requests for accommodations such as extensions on assignments, rescheduling exams and/or requests for incompletes.
- Prolonged depression, suggested by sad expression, apathy, dramatic weight loss or gain, sleeping difficulty, tearfulness.
- Nervousness, agitation, excessive worry, irritability, aggressiveness, non-stop talking.
- Bizarre, strange behavior or speech.
- Extreme dependency on faculty or staff, including spending much of his or her time visiting during office hours or other times.
- Marked decline 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.”
- Comments in a student’s paper that arouse concern about depression, suicide, an abusive relationship, excessive anger, violent thoughts or other issues.
Tips for referring a student
- Normalize/Destigmatize the situation by explaining that many people use counselors to discuss everyday problems in their lives.
- Emphasize that counseling provides a chance to explore feelings and solve problems with the help of an objective listener.
- Stress that counseling does not encourage dependency and, in fact, may be time limited on campus.
- The need for counseling is common. Nearly half of college students surveyed have reported feeling so depressed it was difficult to function.
Once the student has agreed that counseling may be useful, there are several possible steps to take depending on the urgency of the situation.
- Give the student information about the Counseling Center and urge him or her to call.
- Offer to let the student call from your office right then, so that a public commitment will have been made.
- Accompany the student yourself to make sure he or she arrives at the Counseling Center, and provide the office with any necessary information. The Counseling Center office staff will appreciate your calling ahead if the student is being brought over or sent directly, so that plans can be made to have a counselor available.
- When in doubt about what to do, faculty or staff should call the Counseling Center for advice.
Confidentiality is a critical requirement for an effective professional counseling and physician relationship. As such, the Kean Counseling Center staff is unable to give information back to the referring faculty or staff without the student’s permission. Exceptions to the usual rules of confidentiality may be made in situations involving danger to self, danger to others, child/elder abuse and court orders.
Statement on the Family Educational Right and Privacy Act
Information from student education records may be shared within the University by those officials with a “legitimate educational interest” (as defined in the Annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Report). Information from records, files and data directly related to student will not be disclosed by any means to individuals or agencies outside the University without the written consent of the student, except when it is considered directory information or in response to a subpoena or court order, under an exception to FERPA, or in those cases of specifically designated educational and governmental officials as required by FERPA.
Recognizing and Dealing with Student Conduct
Students may NOT:
Exhibit disruptive behavior that
- Interferes with or obstructs the orderly conduct, processes, and functions of the University or the rights of its community members;
- Interferes with or obstructs the orderly conduct, processes, and functions within the classroom, including interfering with the academic mission of the University or with a faculty member or instructor;
- Interferes with or obstructs University disciplinary processes (harassment, intimidation or coercion of persons) before, during or after a proceeding;
- Disturbs the peace.
Endanger themselves or another person by
- Physical violence or actions;
- Interfering with the freedom of another person or group to move about in a lawful manner.
- Either verbally, in writing, or via social media (including indecent or obscene expressions or conduct);
- Causing fear, distress, or intimidation to a reasonable person, causing them to fear injury or death.
How to respond to a disruptive student:
If a student is causing a disruption but does not pose a threat:
- Ensure your safety in the environment. Use a calm, non-confrontational approach.
- Set limits by explaining how the behavior is inappropriate.
- If disruptive behavior persists, inform the student that disciplinary action may occur.
If the behavior escalates and you believe there is a safety risk, or that the student is a threat to self or others, call the Kean Police immediately and report them to the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct.
You may always ask the disruptive student to leave the classroom at the time of the disruption; however, be aware that he/she is permitted to return the next class period unless removed permanently pursuant to applicable procedures.
When in doubt, call the Kean Police at 911 or x74800.
Kean Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct
Location: Miron Student Center, Room 317Helping Students in Difficulty
Sexual Assault/Sexual Misconduct
Faculty and staff are not expected to take on the role of counselor, and the following information can help you provide appropriate assistance to students who reach out to you. First and foremost, it is important that you review the policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct located in Annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Report (www.kean.edu/annual-campus-security-and-fire-safety-report)
What you can do
- Listen non-judgmentally. Accept the experience as the student describes it. Articulate clearly that you believe the student and you want to provide support in any way that you can.
- Validate the student’s feelings.
- Assure the student that it is not their fault. Self-blame is common among victims of sexual violence.
- Do not make judgmental comments. Do not comment on hat could have been done differently or make statements that imply that the student could have avoided the harassment or assault.
- Be sympathetic. However, do not let your own emotions get in the way of supporting the student.
- Discuss options. Show them the Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy. Discuss resources such as the Kean Counseling Center, The Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct, and Kean Campus Police.
- Offer support, not justice. You may provide advice, guidance and information about your student’s options for additional support, but do not take matters into your own hands, offer to confront the perpetrator, or investigate the incident on your own.
- Offer company. If your student is hesitant to get help, even from those who you know are supportive and helpful, offer to accompany them to those who can help. Sometimes that is all it takes to help a student begin to take action.
- Complete the Crime Statistics Report Form. It is expected that faculty and staff who receive credible reports of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct forward that information to the campus police by completing the Campus Security Authority Crime Statistics Report Form (located on the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct website). This information is used for statistical purposes and does not have to include any identifiable student information.
Common Reactions by Student Victims
- The victim may not tell family members due to fear of being blamed or of being told to move home immediately.
- Very often, the victim cannot focus or concentrate on coursework. Even the most responsible student may skip class or work without notice.
- A student who is sexually assaulted may believe this trauma won’t affect academic performance, which may delay disclosure of the assault until the student sees that his/her work is suffering.
Student Code of Conduct
Kean University Student Code of Conduct can be found at: www.kean.edu/policies/Code-of-Conduct
At Kean, student members of the community are expected to abide by certain standards of conduct that form the basis of the Student Code of Conduct and ensure that their guests and visitors do likewise. These standards are embodied within a set of core values that include integrity, fairness, respect, community, and responsibility. Examples of behavior prohibited by the Code include:
Conduct that threatens the health or safety of any person (including oneself), including:
- Physical assault, sexual assault, sexual misconduct, or domestic violence.
- Threats that cause a person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his/her own safety or the safety of his/her immediate family.
- Intoxication or impairment due to the use of alcohol or controlled substances.
- Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures, or other University activities.
- Use, display, storage or manufacture of a weapon or destructive device.
- Sexual harassment
- Racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, disability, and other forms of harassment.
- Stalking, hazing, and disorderly behavior.
Kean University Behavioral Intervention Team
Students displaying concerning behavior can be reported to the Kean University Behavioral Intervention Team (KUBIT) by completing the incident report form on the KUBIT website: www.kean.edu/offices/kubit. Questions about KUBIT can be referred to the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs at 908-737-7080.
Q & A On Classroom Safety
Q. What if a disruptive student claims the disruptive behavior is the result of a disability?
A. The fact that a student may have a disability should not inhibit you from notifying appropriate authorities (including the campus police, as needed) about disruptive behavior. Students with or without disabilities need to know they must adhere to reasonable behavioral standards. Setting and enforcing such standards may encourage students with disabilities to obtain an array of services from professionals to meet these behavioral standards.
Student disability claims and accommodation requests should be discussed with the Office of Disability Services (x74910). There is an established procedure students should follow if they have a disability and need to seek a reasonable accommodation.
Generally, while different rules apply in the elementary and secondary school setting, pertinent federal agencies and the courts have made it clear that an institution of higher education does not have to tolerate or excuse violent, dangerous, or disruptive behavior, especially when that behavior interferes with the educational opportunities of other students. Colleges and universities may discipline a student with a disability for engaging in misconduct if it would impose the same discipline on a student without a disability.
Q. When should I call the police?
A. You should call the campus police or 911 whenever you believe there is any threat of violence or other unlawful behavior, including a student’s refusal to leave a class after being told to do so. Any threat of violence should be taken seriously. Err on the side of caution and notify the police as soon as you can. You should also call the campus police or 911 if you believe a student is a threat to him/herself and it is after regular business hours.
Q. Should I act immediately or wait for a pattern of misbehavior to occur?
A. It is often a mistake to assume disruptive behavior will stop on its own. A fundamental tenet of progressive discipline is to document and respond to “small” incidents sooner rather than later. Generally, teachers who state reasonable expectations early, and enforce them consistently, help students avoid harsher consequences as a result of more serious infractions later. Early intervention, sometimes in the form of a “behavioral contract” developed by the Director of the Office of Student Conduct or designee and a referring instructor, might help define needed boundaries for a student.
Guide adapted from Faculty/Staff Emergency Guide: Helping Students in Difficulty, Rutgers Health Services, Rutgers University.
1 Adapted from the Jed Foundation, Student Mental Health and the Law: A Resource for Institutions of Higher Education. New York, NY: The Jed Foundation, 2008.
2 American College Health Association – National College Health Assessment, 2006.
3,4,5 Adapted from the ASJA Law & Policy Report, No. 26 Copyright: ASJA& Gary Pavela: All rights reserved.
Helping Students in Difficulty
If you see or are dealing with aggressive behavior or other unusual situations:
A Kean Police Officer will respond, assess, and assist.
908-737-4800 (Other than emergency)
Downs Hall, Police Station
If you see or are dealing with a person who is injured, ill or whose behavior seems erratic:
Kean Health Services
They will assess, treat or refer as needed.
Downs Hall, Room 126
If the condition seems serious or occurs after business hours, contact the Kean Police at 911 or x74800.
If you believe a student may be a danger to themselves or others: contact the Kean Counseling Center or Kean Police immediately.
Kean Counseling Center
Downs Hall, Room 127
908-737-4800 (Other than emergency)
Downs Hall, Police Station
If you see or are dealing with a student who “needs to talk to someone” about a personal concern or is experiencing a psychological or emotional crisis.
Kean Counseling Center
Downs Hall, Room 127
If you are dealing with a student on either the Kean Union or Kean Ocean campus who is a victim and who wishes
to file a report:
Kean Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct
Miron Student Center, Room 317
If you are dealing with a person with a disability:
Kean Office of Disability Services
Downs Hall, Room 122
If the student is in need of immediate assistance, ask if you may call the Office of Disability Services on their behalf.
Ocean County College Career, Employment & Counseling Services
Phone: 732-255-0400 x2945
Location: Administration Building, Room 020
Ocean County College Center for Academic Excellence
Location: Library Building, Room 124
Ocean County College Public Safety
Phone: 2200 (on campus); 732-255-0400,
press 1 (for external calls).
Location: Security Welcome Center