For Faculty and Staff

Regarding Programming

Part of the mission of the Counseling Services Office is to provide psychoeducational programming to the Fitchburg State University community. We are often invited by faculty, staff, and students to do classroom presentations, trainings, and educational programs. Past programs and educational activities have included:

  • Stress and Time Management
  • Assertiveness Training
  • Eating Disorders
  • Easing the Transition to University Life
  • Facts about Depression
  • Helping Skills for Campus Living Staff
  • Healthy Relationships
  • University Students and Mental Health
  • National Alcohol Screening Day
  • National Depression Screening Day
  • Sexual Assault Awareness

If you are interested in having Counseling Services staff provide a program for your class, staff, club, or group, or wish to discuss ideas for potential future programs, please contact the Counseling Services Office at (978) 665-3152, or email the Director of Counseling Services at rhynes@fitchburgstate.edu.

Concerned About a Student?

Faculty and staff members are in a position to play a significant role with students who may be struggling with personal or psychological issues. Most importantly, because of their ongoing (and often frequent) contact with students at Fitchburg State, faculty and staff are often able to observe signs and symptoms of a potential problem, well before a student might present to our office for services.

It is by no means expected that faculty and staff will "provide counseling" for students. However, all employees at Fitchburg State should realize that because of the trusting relationship that they may develop with students here, they may be approached for support and/or advice of a personal nature. It may be helpful for faculty and staff to be able to "spot the signs" of a student who may be having emotional or psychological difficulties, to respond effectively to such students, and to facilitate an effective referral to the Counseling Services Office.

Recognizing the Signs of a Potential Problem

The following verbal and behavioral signs may be suggestive of a potential problem:

  • Excessive absences
  • Repeated requests for special consideration academically
  • Aggressive or threatening behavior
  • Social withdrawal, or other marked change in social habits
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene
  • Preoccupation with weight, food, or exercise
  • Dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Excessive crying, emotionality, or mood changes
  • Marked changes in energy level (e.g., listlessness or hyperactivity)
  • Noticeable changes potentially associated with drinking or drug use
  • Increases in pessimism, hopelessness, or helplessness
  • Change in academic habits (e.g., a historically hard-working student who seems not to care about academic performance anymore)
  • Bizarre behaviors (e.g., paranoia, strange speech patterns)
  • References to suicide or death

General Guidelines for How to Respond to Your Concerns About a Student:

  • Don't "put off until tomorrow." Bring up issues and concerns as soon as they become apparent. Ignoring disturbing behavior is unlikely to "make it go away."
  • Have a caring, concerned, nonjudgmental discussion in private, at a time and place that is conducive to a meaningful conversation.
  • Listen to the student at least as much as you talk to them.
  • Avoid the tendency to be critical or judgmental.
  • Avoid the temptation to offer easy solutions to problems; rather, problem-solve with them regarding specific actions they may take to confront their issue(s).
  • Know your own limits. While it may be a tempting proposition to "rescue" a student in distress, often deferring to professional help is appropriate and called for.

Making a Referral for Counseling Services

In many cases, students may be hesitant regarding seeking professional help. They may need to know that you don't see them as a "failure" or as "weak" for doing so. If, indeed, you have decided to refer a student to our office (or other professional mental health services), be prepared to give specific information regarding cost (in the case of Fitchburg State Counseling Services, for enrolled students, there is no cost), location (Hammond Building, Third Floor), and how to make an appointment (by calling 978-665-3152, or stopping by the office). You might try suggesting that the student "give counseling a try" by attending one session. Finally, be humble and realistic; sometimes a seed or two need be planted before a student "hears" others' concerns and actually follows through with a counseling referral. If, however, there is clear and imminent danger to the student or to somebody else, respond more aggressively by contacting your local hospital emergency room, or your local police.

Understanding Confidentiality

You should understand that as required by state and federal law, as well as professional ethical codes, mental health professionals are obligated to protect the privacy and confidentiality of their clients and their disclosures. There are exceptions to confidentiality (outlined more extensively on the Confidentiality Page of our website), which typically involve imminent danger to self or others, but in general, students expect (and we honor) protection of their confidences. These confidentiality requirements remain in effect even when a faculty or staff member has made the referral for a student to counseling services. Please understand that while we will respect our students' confidences, and comply with the law, we will certainly listen to concerns about a student from interested parties.

For Your Own Personal Concerns

Beginning December 1, 2003, Fitchburg State University has a contract with The Wellness Corporation to provide employees of the university with a variety of helpful services.

November 25, 2003 memo from the President and Director of Human Resources outlining the new Employee Assistance Program (MS Word)

The "EAP" (Employee Assistance Program) is available to all current employees of the University, their spouses/partners, dependent children, and other household members. Some of the services that are available through the EAP include:

  • Stress
  • Substance abuse
  • Relationship or marital difficulties
  • Emotional concerns
  • Parenting or family difficulties
  • Budget or debt problems
  • Legal advice
  • Financial concerns

There are also numerous online resources available, simply log on to Wellness Corp.

While Counseling Services staff will continue to be available for consultation to employees at Fitchburg State, we encourage employees to take advantage of the EAP, an important benefit geared specifically to staff and their concerns.

Services provided through the EAP are free to employees; should a referral be necessary or appropriate to further address your concerns, your health insurance may cover part of these costs.

Services provided through the EAP are confidential , and the program is entirely voluntary.

Additional information regarding the EAP is available by accessing The Wellness Corporation website.

To get in touch with the EAP, call 800-828-6025 or 508-842-2780, Monday through Thursday between 8:30 AM and 7:00 PM, or Friday between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM. In the event of an emergency, call the above numbers anytime, and you will be able to speak to an EAP counselor.