Sharing Your Concerns

Why Share Your Concerns?
  • Early Intervention: It is necessary to implement strategies close to the inception of a student’s distress. Providing a timely response, speedy support, and accessible resources will limit potential risk and provide the student with a secure-base for wellness. We want to observe and aware of students in distress and assist them as early as possible to ensure their academic success.
  • Connecting the Dots: It is our goal to gather as much information about a student as possible in order to make the best assessment. Each referral about a student may include information needed to connect the dots. This allows us to provide a greater level of support for each student involved, and helps us to resolve situations quickly.
  • "Madison" Cares: Making a referral shows that you care enough about a student to get them the help they need. It means you are not prepared to let a student fall through the cracks or continue their college-life believing they are alone. James Madison University is a community that cares. We are Madison.
Frequent Hesitations
  • Will the student over-react or become upset? Probably not. We’ve had hundreds of conversations with students each year and almost every single student is grateful that anyone has expressed an interest in them personally. Most acknowledge the concerns and are very open to advice/suggestions. Often students believe that no one has noticed their struggles and having a professor or staff member express concern can really make a difference. Among the handful of students who become upset, it is mostly based on a feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to go for assistance.
  • Will you say the wrong thing? No, not if you share your concerns privately, without judgment, and with a willingness to listen to their perspective. We provide a specific “script” on how to have a conversation below. In most cases, the “right thing” to say involves sharing what you’ve observed, asking them to explain their perspective, and being willing to listen to them.
  • Will you make things worse? No. Definitely not. If you are reading this, you care about students and that will be reflected in your conversations.
  • But I’m not a counselor; what can I really do to help? A lot! You don’t have to be a counselor to share that you care, express empathy, and encourage a solid connection with other resources and assistance on campus. There is no expectation that you take on a student’s concerns, only that you share your observations, listen, and encourage some problem solving. No expertise required!

Faculty Resources content adapted from Elon University

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