If you are concerned about the immediate safety of a student, call Gordon Police at x3333 and do not leave them alone. Gordon Police will ensure they are safe and will help facilitate an appropriate transfer to the Emergency Room for evaluation, with the assistance of their RD.
- Changes in sleep/not sleeping
- Changes in appetite, eating patterns, or level of preoccupation/obsession with eating, exercising, body image, caloric intake or skipping meals
- Poor concentration or motivation
- Loss of energy
- Lack of interest
- Low self-esteem
- Severe mood swings
- Hopelessness, guilt or suicidal thinking
- Intense worries or fears that interfere with daily functioning or ability to engage with friends, activities or family as usual
- Change in patterns of functioning- missing classes, assignments, social engagements
- Drastic or bizarre changes in behavior, personality, or routine
- Isolating oneself
- Repeated use of drugs or alcohol
- Unexplained bruises, cuts or burns
- When any of the above are affecting the person's ability to function on a daily basis; go to class, complete assignments, engage socially as they normally do--it is important that they seek support as soon as possible. Addressing problems when they arise can help to contain the problem. Issues left unaddressed are likely to spill over and impact every area of functioning over time.
HOW TO APPROACH A STUDENT OF CONCERN
- If you feel you can, share your concerns with the student when you are alone with them. Do not do this in front of others.
- Express your concern with warmth and openness, asking questions rather than stating assumptions or making statements.
- Share directly and simply about the changes that you have observed without judgment or conclusion. Ask them after you share, “Does what I’m seeing match with how you’re doing/feeling?”
- Respect their boundaries-physical, emotional and otherwise. Know that even if a student is unable to discuss how they are doing with you and ends the conversation, you have shared in a warm and open way that someone has noticed and is concerned. This can make all the difference to someone who is struggling as they often do not know that others have noticed the changes they have been experiencing. This can be a helpful reality check for them and it may encourage them to reach out for support.
- Do not try to control the student, shame them or force them to make any decisions.
- Do not assume you know what is going on for them.
- Do not force them to tell you what is going on, but continue to encourage them to share with someone they trust, even if it is not you.
- Offer to help them reach out to someone for help; a counselor, a parent, a family member, an RD, ASC staff, a coach et al., and help them to identify who that trusted person is. Encourage them not to choose another student as this may put an inappropriate burden on their peers.
- Encourage them to seek professional help from the Counseling Center, even if it is just for a one-time appointment to evaluate whether counseling would be helpful for them.
- Ask them directly if there is any way you can help them or support them in this process.
- Do not worry alone. If you are concerned about a student, please share this information confidentially with an RD, a staff person or in consultation with a counselor. We cannot pursue a student or confirm whether they are coming to counseling due to HIPPA regulations, but we can help you think through appropriate steps and support you in that process.
WHEN HELPING OTHERS IS HURTING YOU - LIMITS ARE GOOD
Students at Gordon are largely supportive, caring, compassionate and selfless in their care for their peers. We consistently witness students coming alongside their friends during times of struggle, pain and healing. Students on this campus are quick to lay down their own needs in order to care for others which is a beautiful thing to witness. It is indicative of the type of students we have here at Gordon who desire to "lay down their life for their brother," in so many ways.
However, there are times when caring for another student's needs can become too much. For many students, the care of others comes naturally, while care of self, especially if it involves conflict, is much more difficult and often feels "selfish" to them. It is vitally important that you first learn to have limits, maintain healthy boundaries, and care for yourself in positive, healthy ways in order to care for others.
Here are a few questions to help you determine whether helping someone else is hurting you:
- Have you begun to forego sleep, exercise routines, meals or study time in order to listen to or support this person?
- Do you find that you are spending increasing time feeling worried, concerned or scared for the safety or well-being of this person?
- Have you begun to avoid answering phone calls, texts or emails from this person?
- Do you find yourself avoiding certain locations on campus, dorms or timing your travel across campus to avoid this person?
- Are you experiencing increasing anxiety, mood instability, trouble sleeping, decreased functioning or disruption in your own life as a result of this person's problems?
- Do you find that after you spend time with this person you feel worse about yourself even though you are supporting them?
- Have you found that this person uses guilt, manipulation or threat of harm to themselves to keep you with them or on the phone?
Please do not hesitate to make an appointment with the Counseling Center to share these burdens with our professional counselors. Learning to establish and maintain healthy limits is a crucial part of the growth and maturation process. We can help you think through the situation and reclaim a healthy perspective as you seek to create balance in your own life while you support those you care about.
Learn more about specific mental health issues and access online resources and information ➔