Assisting Students of Concern
Most students adjust to the challenges of college life or graduate school on their own, or with support from family and friends. However, there may be occasions that indicate a need for additional help or support. You may be in a position to identify and approach students who require assistance and to refer them to appropriate resources. One of our primary goals is to identify students who may need support or assistance early and to intervene before the student is in crisis.
Faculty, staff, students, and community members, who are aware that a student is exhibiting behaviors that are of concern in relation to their personal, physical, or emotional wellbeing, can report their concerns using the Student of Concern Reporting Form. Please note this form is not designed to be an emergency response notification process and therefore, this form can and should be submitted in addition to using the identified distress interventions for imminent threats and urgent matters outlined below.
Students may demonstrate behavior that indicates distress and a need for assistance. A combination of several factors more than a single circumstance is most likely to indicate a problem:
- Academic performance concerns, uncharacteristic changes
- Declining grades or reduced class participation
- Incomplete or missing assignments
- Repeated requests for extensions, incompletes, or withdrawals
- Increased absenteeism or tardiness
- Disruptive classroom behavior
- Apparent memory loss or difficulty concentrating
- Cheating, rule breaking, or defiance
- Poor organization skills or trouble with note taking
- Bizarre, aggressive or morbid comments or written content
- Expressions of feeling hopeless, helpless, guilty and/or worthless
- Chronic fatigue, falling asleep in class
- Nervousness or fearfulness
- Significant weight gain or loss
- Signs of intoxication, dilated or constricted pupils, or apparent hangovers
- Poor or declining physical appearance, hygiene, and grooming
- Suspected alcohol or drug use
- Erratic behavior, sudden mood swings, inappropriate anger, hostility, and irritability
- Withdrawal from others or loss of pleasure in everyday activities
- Talk of suicide or harm to self or others
If you decide to express your concern to the student:
- Choose a place where you may talk quietly without interruption, at a time convenient for both of you.
- Be honest and focus on the specific signs that alerted you to a possible problem.
- Remain calm, compassionate, and willing to listen.
- Convey your willingness to help.
- Be aware that the student could respond in a variety of ways. Don’t interpret negative, indifferent, or hostile responses as a wasted effort. A decision to seek help often takes time.
- Sometimes fear gets in the way of the student’s willingness to accept assistance. Acknowledging possible reservations may help overcome this barrier.
- Provide the student with the phone number of the Psychological Counseling Center, Student Health, Religious Life, or the Dean of Students.
- If appropriate, ask for an agreement to make an appointment by a certain date. It may be helpful to ask the student later if he or she has followed through on a referral you made.
- Keep communication open by telling the student you are always willing to listen.
- Occasionally, it may be helpful to assist a student with making a contact.
- Be mindful that students may view referral as rejection.
The information in this section is to provide crisis support resources. Please note that the below resources have been categorized in order to best match student needs with the appropriate resources; however, the categories are not mutually exclusive and some resources may be appropriate for a variety of circumstances.
Distress Intervention: Imminent Threat of Harm/Life Endangering Situation
- Vanderbilt University Police Department (VUPD)
(615) 421-1911 or 911 (emergencies)
(615) 322-2745 (non-emergencies)
Distress Intervention: Urgent but No Imminent Threat of Harm
- Psychological and Counseling Center (PCC)
(615) 322-2571(during and after business hours)
Distress Intervention: Non-urgent or Minimally Disruptive Behavior
- Center for Student Wellbeing
- Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life (OUCRL)
- The Office of the Dean of Students
If you are a VU employee seeking assistance for yourself, please contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at (615) 936-1327.
You should submit a Student of Concern report if you are working with a student who is exhibiting behaviors that are of concern in relation to their personal, physical, or emotional wellbeing and:
- You have used one of the distress interventions listed above;
- You would like someone else to be aware of the issue;
- You believe the student needs immediate follow-up;
- You believe the student needs ongoing support;
- You have updated information about a previous report you filed; or
- You want advice on how to interact with or support the student.
If you are unsure whether you should submit a report, please contact us.
Once a Student of Concern report is submitted, appropriate staff will review and assess the information in order to determine the best course of action for follow-up. This is done a case-by-case basis and the type of follow-up will vary depending on the information available and the circumstances surrounding the report. Follow-up may include reaching out to the student directly and working with the student on a success plan or appropriate referrals. A staff member may contact the reporting party for additional information. In addition, please note that a reporting party may not receive any specific follow-up information due to privacy laws and regulations.
College & School Liaisons and Deans
Each school or college has a designated point of contact who works with the Office of the Dean of Students and other offices to assist faculty and staff in helping students get the support they need.
- A&S – Roger Moore, Assoc. Dean • 615-322-2844
- Blair – Melissa Rose, Assoc. Dean • 615-322-7693
- Divinity – Amy Steele, Asst. Dean for Student Life • 615-343-5749
- Engineering – Burgess Mitchell, Asst. Dean for Student Services • 615-343-3773
- Graduate School – Richard Hoover, Assoc. Dean • 615-322-3944
- Law – Chris Meyers, Director of Student Affaris • 615-343-5807
- Medical – Amy Fleming, Assoc. Dean • 615-936-0257
- Nursing – Sarah Ramsey, Asst. Dean Student Affairs • 615-343-3334
- Owen – Kelly Christie, Asst. Dean • 615-322-4064
- Peabody – Monique Robinson-Nichols, Associate Dean for Students and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion • 615-343-6947
Mental Health Educational Resources and Trainings
- Kognito at Risk
- Mental Health Awareness & Prevention of Suicide (MAPS)
- Center for Teaching (CFT)
Resource Guide: Managing Student Stress Through Course Design