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For Faculty & Staff

Faculty and staff have a privileged opportunity to show care and compassion to our students. Sometimes students can be overwhelmed by the pressures and stresses of university life which can manifest as isolation, depression, anxiety, or hopelessness. These feelings easily disrupt the students’ ability to manage academic life to their fullest potential.

Due to your contact with students, you may be the first person who observes a student‘s distress. Don’t hesitate to show concern and compassion. Reach out to the student. A student who is having trouble in your presence is most likely experiencing difficulty in other contexts, such as with roommates, family, the classroom, and social settings. Trust your instincts if a student leaves you worried, alarmed, or threatened!

Students sometimes cannot or will not turn to family and friends for help. Your expression of concern may be a critical factor in saving a student’s academic career or even their life. SCU CARE represents our collective standard and goal in assisting students to the best resources to help them through challenges and crises.

Teacher/Student Meeting

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) permits communication about a student of concern in connection with a health and safety emergency. Observations about a student’s conduct or reports of statements made by a student are not prohibited by FERPA regulations. Such information should be shared with appropriate consideration for student privacy.

How to Recognize a Student in Distress:

  • Significant deterioration in quality or quantity of work
  • Repeated absences
  • Missed assignments, exams, or appointments
  • Written or artistic expression of unusual violence, social isolation, despair or preoccupation with suicide or death
  • Repeated requests for special accommodations, e.g., paper extensions, make-up exams, etc.
  • Patterns of perfectionism. e.g., the inability to accept any grade but an A
  • Overblown or disproportionate response to grades or other evaluations

If your concerns are solely for the student's academic performance, please contact the Drahmann Center first. The Office of Student Life and Drahmann Advising Center are in frequent communication given the overlap between student academic and personal issues and work together to address the needs of and support for students who are struggling academically.

  • Direct statements indicating distress, family problems, or loss
  • Angry or hostile outbursts, yelling, or aggressive comments
  • Withdrawn from others, low motivation
  • Excessively demanding or dependent behavior
  • Failure to respond to outreach by professors or staff after expressed concern
  • Shakiness, tremors, fidgeting, or pacing
  • More animated than usual, euphoria, overly enthusiastic
  • Paranoid, excessively vigilant, fear that others are going to cause harm
  • Extreme disorganization or erratic performance
  • Deterioration in physical appearance or personal hygiene
  • Excessive fatigue, exhaustion, falling asleep in class
  • Visible changes in weight, statements about change in appetite or sleep
  • Noticeable cuts, bruises, or burns
  • Frequent or chronic illness
  • Disorganized, rapid or slurred speech, confusion
  • Unusual inability to make eye contact
  • Coming to class bleary or red-eyed or smelling of alcohol or marijuana

How to Help a Student in Distress:


SCU CARE Protocol

Follow the chart to determine who to contact when working with a distressed or distressing student.

Is the student a danger to self or others, or does the student need immediate assistance for any reason?


Not Sure


The student's conduct is clearly and imminently reckless, disorderly, or threatening, including self-harming behaviors.

The student shows signs of distress but I am unsure how serious it is. My interaction has left me feeling uneasy and/or concerned about the student.

I'm not concerned for the student's immediate safety, but there are significant academic and/or personal issues. The students could use support or additional services.

There is immediate concern for the student's safety due to incoherent speech, inability to focus, or aggressive behaviors.

The student ran out of the classroom crying. Upon speaking with the student, I find out they have been struggling with severe anxiety and panic attacks.

The student asked for an extension on an assignment due to a personal issue that has been disruptive to their studies.

Call Campus Safety at
and/or 911

If during an active crisis, call Cowell at 408-554-4501. Otherwise, submit an online Student of Concern Referral Form  

File an online 
 Student of Concern Referral Form

The Office of Student Life and Drahmann Advising Center are in frequent communication given the overlap between student academic and personal issues. If at this time your concerns are only for the student's academic performance, please contact the Drahmann Center first.

You WILL NOT be taking on the role of counselor. You need only to listen, care and offer resource referral information.

  • Speak directly with the student
  • Meet individually and in a quiet place
  • Set a hopeful tone
  • Express your concern and caring
  • Point out specific behaviors you’ve observed
  • Listen attentively to the student’s response and encourage him or her to talk
  • Explain the limitations of your knowledge and experience
  • Refer the student to the appropriate resources, the referral source has the resources to assist the student in a more appropriate manner
  • When in doubt, consult
  • Avoid making promises of confidentiality
  • Plan for follow-up

UNLESS the student is suicidal or a danger to others, the ultimate decision to access resources belongs with the student.

  • When appropriate, directly connect the student to the appropriate resource(s) by way of providing the student with the office's contact information, sending an introductory email to help connect the student to the resource, or walking the student to the resource. Inform the resource of your reasons for referral.
  • Realize that your offer of help may be rejected.
  • Keep the lines of communication open and follow up with the student.
  • For additional support or intervention, please fill out an Office of Student Life "Student of Concern Referral form".

When needed, please call Campus Safety at 408-554-4444 and 911.

Campus Safety can play a critical role in directing the police and emergency services to your location or wherever on campus the emergency is occurring. Not all emergency responders know our campus with accuracy. Having Campus Safety available to direct them decreases response time and coordinates efforts.

Mental Health First Aid is a nationally recognized training program that teaches participants how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health concerns and substance use. The training provides the skills needed to reach out and provide initial help and support while helping to identify other longer-term solutions if needed. 

Mental Health First Aid trainings are FREE for all faculty, staff, and students and come with a 3-year certification. 


To Make a CARE Referral:

For immediate concerns, please reference the contact listing below:

If a Student . . .

Contact . . .

is in possession of a weapon

Campus Safety at 408-554-4444 or 911

is an imminent harm to self or others

Campus Safety at 408-554-4444 or 911

is a potential harm to self or others

Cowell Center at 408-554-4501 and Office of Student Life at 408-554-4583

is a victim of recent violence, abuse, or sexual violence

Cowell Center at 408-554-4501 or Wellness Center at 408-554-4409 or Title IX at 408-551-3043

has been a victim of past violence or abuse

Cowell Center at 408-554-4501 or Wellness Center at 408-554-4409 or Title IX at 408-551-3043

is experiencing psychological distress impairing the ability to learn effectively

Cowell Center at 408-554-4501

is verbally or emotionally abusive

Cowell Center at 408-554-4501 or Office of Student Life at 408-554-4583

is engaging in conduct contrary to that in the Student Handbook

Office of Student Life at 408-554-4583

has engaged in academic dishonesty

Office of Student Life at 408-554-4583

is having difficulty managing academic load or stress

Drahmann Center at 408-554-4318

is experiencing family or personal crisis or loss and needs to miss classes

Office of Student Life at 408-554-4583

is suspected of alcohol or drug use interfering with academic effectiveness

Cowell Center at 408-554-4501 or Wellness Center at 408-554-4409

is having financial difficulties

Financial Aid at 408-551-1000

is a victim of bias, harassment, or discrimination

Office of Student Life at 4583 and Title IX at 408-551-3043 

to be directed to the Office of Student Life "Student of Concern Referral form". 

Types of behaviors that should be reported are as follows:

Aggression Extreme withdrawal Medical issues or concerns
Alarming writings or drawings Failing grades Missed multiple classes without contact
Anxiety Family abuse Non-responsive to outreach
Attempted suicide Feels that they have been unfairly or is being targeted  Overly stressed or overwhelmed
Bizarre or erratic behavior Financial issues Preoccupation with guns, ammunition or weapons
Depression Flat affect or extreme lack of responsiveness Preoccupation with fire or bombs
Disconnection from reality Grief and/or significant loss Self-injurious behavior (cutting, burning, etc.)
Drug abuse/dependence Homelessness Significant change in behavior, hygiene, or self-care
Eating disorder (anorexia or bulimia) Hostility Significant change: academic performance
Extreme rudeness Incoherent or slurred speech Suicidal thoughts expressed

Santa Clara University upholds a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct, including gender-based misconduct, involving students or other members of the University community. Reports should be filed with the Title IX Office, 408-551-3043, or online. Anonymous reports may be filed through Ethicspoint.

Resized logo - Promoting a Culture of CARE