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Reaching Out Handbook

A guide for Boise State faculty and staff in assisting students.

Explore the resources on this page or Download the printable PDF version here

A Message from Counseling Services

To our Boise State University Community:

Boise State is committed to creating a safe and healthy learning and living environment. An important step in fulfilling that commitment is attending to the mental health needs of our students.

The campus community must take on a sense of ownership for how our
students are doing and, when appropriate, connect them to campus and/or
community resources.

To the extent that we maintain the well-being of our students, we nurture their academic, social, and personal development and create a safe and healthy campus community.

Supporting students’ healthy development requires everyone’s participation. Participating not only promotes safety on campus, it also provides you with
an opportunity to be a part of helping another person achieve their academic

To the Administration, Faculty and Staff:

We would like to acknowledge the many administrators, faculty, and staff across campus who have contributed to the development of the intervention guidelines in this handbook. Your suggestions and input are highly valued and appreciated.

The Reaching Out Handbook has been created for the purpose of providing you with information about Counseling Services at Health Services, about other campus, and community resources, and how to most effectively assist students in distress.

Our goal is to help you recognize some of the signs of student distress and
to provide some specific options for intervention and for referral to resources. We are available to assist you with problem situations and to consult with you on whether to intervene with a particular student.

This guide will discuss the role of faculty and staff in assisting with student problems. Guidelines are offered but each individual will need to consider what is appropriate in a given situation. Basic topics cover identifying students in distress, ways of dealing with these students, and how to refer them for counseling and other services. Dealing with the reluctant student, scheduling an appointment with Counseling Services, and confidentiality issues are also discussed.

About Counseling Services

Counseling Services offers short-term individual and couples
counseling, consultation, group sessions, and crisis intervention.
Insurance plans can be billed, and self-pay is available. No student or
employee will be turned away for inability to pay. If it is determined
that a patient requires resources beyond what we can offer, we will
do our best to provide a referral to an appropriate mental health
provider in the community.

Counseling Services is staffed by licensed professional counselors,
psychologists, social workers, and graduate counseling and social
work interns, all trained to handle a variety of mental health
concerns. We appreciate referrals and will do our best to have a
student seen as soon as possible if you believe the concern to
be urgent.

Contact Us:

Please do not hesitate to call (208) 426-1459 if we can help you address the needs of any of your students. We are here to help!

We are in the Norco Building, behind Campus Recreation between Belmont St. and Beacon Ave.


8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Wednesdays.

Walk-in crisis intervention services are available Monday through Friday during our hours of operation.


Insurance plans can be billed, and self-pay is available for counseling services. No patient will be turned away for their inability to pay

After-Hours Care:

Students needing to talk to someone trained in crisis intervention after
hours can call Health Services at (208) 426-1459 and be redirected to a nurse
at St. Luke’s Hospital, call the Suicide Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255),
or text “HOME” to 741-741.

Campus Resources

Health, Safety and Well-Being

  • Health Services |
    (208) 426-1459 |
  • The Office of BroncoFit |
  • The Office of the Dean of Students |
    (208) 426-1527 |
  • Gender Equity Center |
    (208) 426-4259 |
  • Department of Public Safety |
    208) 426-6911 |
  • Title IX Office |
    (208) 426-1258 |

Academic Support

  • Educational Access Center |
    (208) 426-1583 |
  •  Advising and Academic Support Center |
    (208) 426-4049 |
  • Office of the Registrar |
    (208) 426-4249 |
  • The Writing Center |
    (208) 426-1298 |

Financial Support

  • Financial Aid and Scholarships Office |
    (208) 426-1664 |
  • Student Financial Services |
    (208) 426-1212 |

Cultural Assistance

  • Student Equity |
    (208) 426-5950 |
  • International Admissions |
    (208) 426-4367 |

Veterans Assistance

  • Veterans Services Center |
    (208) 426-3744 |

Emergency Resources

  • Boise Policy Department | 911
  • Department of Public Safety | (208) 426-6911
  • Counseling Services, Walk-in Crisis Counseling | (208) 426-1459
  • Suicide Prevention Hotline | 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Domestic Abuse Hotline | (208) 343-7025

Guidelines for Intervention

How to Approach Students in Crisis

You can have a profound affect on students when you
openly acknowledge that you are aware of their distress,
are sincerely concerned about their welfare, and are willing
to help them explore options. Whenever possible, we
encourage you to speak directly and honestly to students
if you sense academic or personal distress.

1. Request to see the student in private. This should help
minimize embarrassment and defensiveness. Show respect
for the student.

2. Briefly share your observations and perceptions of the
student’s situation. Express your concerns directly and

3. Listen carefully. Try to see the issues from the student’s point
of view without agreeing or disagreeing.

4. Attempt to identify the problem. Is the student connected
with any ongoing resources? You can help by exploring options
to deal with the concern.

5. Acknowledge inappropriate or strange behavior. Comment on
what you observe without sounding judgmental.

6. Flexibility in administering established policies may allow an
alienated student to respond more effectively to your concerns.

7. Involve yourself only as far as you are comfortable, then refer
the student to the appropriate resources. As you attempt to
reach out to a troubled student, do not become more involved
than time or skill permits

Consultation and Confidentiality

Requesting a Consultation

If you are unsure how to handle a specific student, contact Counseling Services at  (208) 426-1459, identify yourself as a faculty or staff member, and ask to speak with a staff counselor. If the counselors are engaged, your call will be returned as soon as possible. A brief consultation may help you sort out the relevant issues and explore alternative approaches. If
a student is already receiving counseling services, they must give written permission for us to disclose confidential information.

Conveying your concern and willingness to help is perhaps the most important thing you can do. Your support, encouragement, and reassurance will be particularly helpful to a student in distress.

If you feel it is imperative that the student receive immediate attention, the student is willing to cooperate, and it is before 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, you may walk them to the Counseling Services office. If it is after hours and you believe this to be a mental health emergency, call Public Safety at, (208) 426-6911, and/or 911.

Students may also access supportive services at the Gender Equity Center, for issues related to sexual and relationship violence and/or stalking.

Ensuring Confidentiality

The staff at Counseling Services strictly comply with relevant legal and ethical obligations. We cannot discuss a client’s situation or even reveal that counseling is being received, without the client’s written consent. Sometimes the faculty or staff member who made the referral will call to follow up. Please understand that we cannot tell you that the student has made an appointment without their written consent. We will generally ask a student if the referring individual can have feedback about our contact (at least to let them know that the student has kept their appointment), but if the student does not want any information released, we have to honor that choice. Most students appreciate the referral and are quite willing to provide some feedback on the counseling contact. If you wish to follow-up on someone you have referred, please ask that individual to provide us with permission to speak with you. If you do not hear from us, it is likely that permission has been denied. However, while we can’t share information without a student’s permission, we are open to receiving
information you have about a student that you think would be helpful.

Referring Students for Counseling

In many instances you may be the right person at the right time to make an intervention that brings about an improved situation for your student. They may seek you out because they trust your judgment and support, and timely help in problem solving may be just what is needed. If however, the student’s concerns are chronic or severe or overstep your time boundaries or limits of expertise, a referral to Counseling Services, or to an appropriate student support service may be in order. Explain your concerns to the student and say why you think assistance would be helpful. By having students call for a counseling appointment themselves, you increase their sense of responsibility. However, offering to help the student schedule an appointment as a gesture of support may be useful. It may also help if you give us a “heads up” on what to expect. There are times when it is more advantageous for you to make an appointment for the student and to accompany them to the appropriate office.

If a Student is Reluctant to Seek Professional Help

Acknowledge and validate the student’s fears and concerns about seeking help. Normalize the process of seeking help and suggest Counseling Services as a possible resource rather than imply that the student is very disturbed and needs therapy. Reluctant students might be relieved to know that they can speak to a counselor on a one-time basis without making a commitment to a series of sessions. Reassure the student that any information shared will be kept confidential and will not be disclosed to parents, faculty, or university departments (unless the student is at risk of harm to themselves or others).

If the student refuses to seek help and you are concerned for their safety, consult with your department head and the Counseling Services staff. If you think they are an immediate risk, call 911.

Urgent Concerns that Require Immediate Intervention:
• suicidal tendencies
• recent death of a loved one
• physical assault
• sexual assault
• fear of losing control and
• recent abuse (victim or self abuse)
• possibly harming someone
• stalking (whether in person or electronically)
• verbal or implied threats to one’s well-being

CARE and Additional Reporting Options

CARE stands for Campus Assessment Resource and Education and
provides assistance to the university community to help assess and
find solutions for managing distressing, disturbing, disruptive, and
potentially dangerous behaviors. The CARE Team is comprised of representatives from departments across campus who are trained to assess and
respond to more concerning situations, including Counseling Services.

What is a CARE Report?

You will find references to “submit a CARE report” often in this handbook. That is because CARE offers an opportunity to follow-up with individuals you may be concerned for but are unsure of the support that could best assist them.

You can submit a CARE report, alerting the CARE Team to the situation, at

What to Expect from Filling Out a CARE Report:

Upon receipt of a CARE referral, the CARE members will review the information you provided, gather additional information to add in the assessment process and determine the best strategy for follow-up. Individuals who make a referral may be contacted. Depending on the circumstances, that individual may not receive specific information about how the CARE Team plans on responding to their referral.

Learn more about CARE at

Additional Reporting Options:

Looking for additional reporting options? When nuanced issues arise that warrant reporting, please visit to determine the best channel for your specific concern.

Here you will find additional reporting options for situations concerning student behavioral misconduct, discrimination and harassment, gender-based discrimination and harassment, student academic concerns and misconduct as well as classroom disruption.

The Graduate Student

Reaching Out

Graduate students are significantly more likely than the general population to report symptoms of depression and related anxiety. When assisting a graduate student, it is important to understand there are often factors associated with the graduate school experience that influence their mental wellness. The two most influential considerations are whether or not they perceive a supportive relationship with their advisor or mentor and whether or not they are able to create work-life balance. Additional factors that impact their mental wellness are:

• Financial concerns
• Uncertain academic progression
• Overwhelming experiences of competitiveness
• Reduced sleep
• Reduced physical health
• Difficulty developing and maintaining social connectedness
• Concerns for future employment prospect

Many graduate students have concerns about professional and academic consequences for seeking help and may be less likely to discuss their concerns with peers and colleagues. Faculty and staff should foster an environment that reduces stigma, encourages conversation, and promotes help-seeking behaviors for students.

Helpful Actions

  • Share your own personal struggles/failures. This can help normalize a person’s difficult experience without invalidating their emotions, while also modeling that it is ok to
    discuss such topics.
  • Help the student to explore hobbies and activities unrelated to their course of study. Taking advantage of Boise’s vibrant community with remarkable opportunities for adventure will help promote balance.
  •  Encourage the student to talk to a peer, seek advice from a trusted mentor, or set an
    appointment with a mental health counselor on campus.

Unhelpful Actions

  • Minimizing the student’s feelings.
  • Failing to recognize the student as a complex person with multiple responsibilities (i.e. a job, children, acting as a care taker, etc.)
  • Being too busy to reach out to a student you are concerned about


  • Learn about the Graduate Student Success Center at
  • Learn more about finding a balance and well-being through The Office of BroncoFit at
  • Learn about Health Service’s GradWell program at

The Online/Extended Studies Students

Reaching Out

Boise State students who are enrolled in online/extended studies programs may also experience symptoms of depression, relating anxiety, and all other concerns highlighted in the Reaching Out Handbook. These students are not on campus and may not have access to campus resources to assist them with managing and balancing course work, life stressors, and

Students who are involved in online or extended studies programs may also be employed full-time, and/or have families and additional responsibilities to many of the on-campus students. Factors that can negatively impact these students’ mental well-being are:

• Financial concerns
• Uncertain academic progression
• Issues relating to work-life balance
• Reduced sleep
• Reduced physical health
• Concerns for future employment prospects
• Isolation from Boise State University campus and student resources

Helpful Actions

  • Let the individual know that although they may not be close in proximity to campus that they are valued and you would like to support them.
  • Be prepared to ask the individual directly if they are having suicidal thoughts or have
    made plans to end their life.
  • Encourage the individual to make an appointment with a professional counselor to
    discuss how they are feeling.

Unhelpful Actions

  • Ignoring warning signs of suicide “It won’t matter soon” etc.
  • Being too busy to reach out to a student you are concerned about.
  •  Becoming involved with the individual beyond your levels of expertise or comfort.


  • Learn more about Health Service’s and Counseling Services Telehealthcare options at
  • Learn more about Boise State’s Division of Extended Studies at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Student Experiencing Food Insecurity

Reaching Out

Individuals who experience food insecurity struggle to meet their basic nutritional needs commonly due to financial barriers. An individual experiencing food insecurity may struggle to know where they will get their next meal or how they will pay for their groceries. They may also struggle to consume a variety of foods due to lack of resources.

Food insecurity is a serious problem that affects many different areas of life. An individual that cannot meet their nutritional needs may experience difficulty concentrating, fatigue, dizziness, and other health complications. In addition to health consequences, an individual may also experience shame or symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.

Many individuals struggle to access resources due to pre-existing stigmas around accepting assistance. Food insecurity is common and not the result of “being lazy” or “mismanaging money.” Avoid making judgments or pressuring an individual to explain why they are experiencing food insecurity. Become aware of food resources available and be prepared to
make referrals, as necessary.

Helpful Actions

  • Speak to the individual in private and offer support and concern for their well-being.
  • Listen without conveying judgment.
  • Be aware of food resources available both on campus (see below) and in the community.
    Make appropriate referrals.
  • Encourage the individual to make an appointment with the Dean of Students to explore resources available and/or Boise State Counseling Services to address underlying concerns

Unhelpful Actions

  • Ignoring the problem.
  • Blaming the individual.
  • Making judgments or demanding an explanation as to why someone is struggling with food insecurity.
  • Not helping to make a sustainable plan to address the need.
  • Telling others about the situation, except for the professionals who can offer adequate support.


  • Learn more about meal assistants programs at Boise State at
  • Learn more about food and nutrition education at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Student Preoccupied with Food or Weight

Reaching Out

Preoccupation with food or weight is a sign of an eating disorder which is a complex condition that can often arise from a variety of causes including body image issues, self-esteem struggles, trauma, and mental illness. Preoccupation with food or weight can be
a constant, deep-seated, and often frustrating concern for many individuals, and at the same time be the only coping strategy an individual feels they have. Some concerning signs to watch for include:

  • Rigid exercise or food rituals
  • Fixation on dieting
  • Purging – vomiting after eating
  • Binging – consumption of excessive amounts of food in a short period of time
  • Unusual interest or obsessive thinking/talking about food, weight, or body image
  • Avoidance of food or social situations that include food
  • Recent rapid weight loss of 14 or more pounds in a three-month period
  • A person believing they are fat when others consider them to be too thin

Helpful Actions

  • Speak to the individual about your specific concerns and behaviors you have observed.
  • Let the person know that you and others care about them unconditionally.
  • Thank them for trusting you enough to talk about their struggle.
  • Encourage the individual to make an appointment with a health care professional.
  • “There are people who are trained and understand what you are going through. Can I help refer you?”

Unhelpful Actions

  • Although often well-meaning, it is not helpful to give advice or simple solutions (“if you’d just stop everything would be fine”).
  • To promote a neutral relationship with food or weight, do not make comments about the individual’s weight loss or food consumption (“I wish I was as skinny as you” or, “You’re so much better at staying away from treats than I am”).
  • Do not ignore the problem, hoping it will just go away


  • Learn more about Counseling Services at
  • Learn more about contacting The Office of BroncoFit’s Registered Dietitian at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Student with Depression

Reaching Out

Depression is part of a natural emotional and physical response to life’s ups and downs. With the busy and demanding life of a college student, it is safe to assume most students will experience periods of situational depression. A student needs assistance when the depressive symptoms become extreme or last so long that they begin interfering with the student’s ability to function in school, work, or social environments.
Since faculty and staff are in a position to observe and interact with students, they are often the first to recognize a student in distress. Look for a pattern of these indicators:

• Tearfulness or excessive emotions inappropriate to the situation
• Markedly diminished performance
• Infrequent class attendance
• Increased anxiety (generalized, test, or performance)
• Irritability
• Deterioration in personal hygiene
• Significant weight gain or loss
• Lack of energy or motivation
• Alcohol or drug use

Students experiencing mild depression often respond well to additional attention over a short period of time. Prompt intervention increases the student’s chances of returning to earlier performance levels. Do not attempt to provide in-depth counseling.

Helpful Actions

  • Engage the student (by name if you can) and by using specific observations let the student know you are aware they are likely feeling down and that you would like to offer support and assistance.
  • Do not hesitate to ask the student directly if they are having suicidal thoughts.
  • Encourage the student to make an appointment with a professional counselor to discuss how they are feeling.

Unhelpful Actions

  • Minimizing the student’s feelings (“Everything will be better tomorrow.”)
  • Bombarding the student with fix-it solutions or advice.
  • Trying to solve the student’s problems.
  • Ignoring signs of suicidal tendencies.


  • Learn more about Counseling Services at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Student Experiencing Suicidal Thoughts

Reaching Out

It is important to regard all suicidal comments as serious. Watching for some of the following behaviors will offer clues on the student’s frame of mind. If a student exhibits any of the symptoms below, refer them to Counseling Services immediately for assessment.

• Withdrawal from friends and family
• Expression of extreme hopelessness or guilt
• Sudden mood or behavior changes
• Giving possessions away
• Comments that life isn’t worth the trouble
• Recurrent thoughts or statements about suicide

Helpful Actions

  • Be confident, caring, and prepared to provide information about available student resources.
  • If you have an intuition that something is wrong with the student, call Counseling
    Services at (208) 426-1459 for consultation with professional staff.
  • If you believe there is imminent danger, and the student is willing, bring them to Counseling Services (Norco Building, 2nd floor) for walk-in crisis counseling during business hours. If you believe there is imminent danger, and it is after business hours, call Public Safety at (208) 426-6911 or 911.
  • Call the Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Unhelpful Actions

  • Becoming involved with the student beyond your levels of expertise or comfort.
  • Ignoring comments such as, “won’t be a problem much longer,” or “Nothing matters; it’s no use.”
  • Being too busy to intervene.


  • Learn more about crisis intervention at Counseling Services at
  • Learn more about the Department of Public Safety at
  • Learn more about requesting a suicide prevention and education
    workshop through The Dean of Students Office at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Anxious Student

Reaching Out

Anxiety is a normal response to a perceived danger or threat to one’s well-being. While everyone suffers from occasional anxiety, sometimes the level of anxiety can become overwhelming. For some students, the cause of anxiety is clear; for others, it is difficult to pinpoint the reason for their distress.

Regardless of the cause, the student may experience the following symptoms: rapid heartbeat, chest pain or discomfort, dizziness, sweating, trembling or shaking. The student may also complain of having difficulty concentrating, always feeling “on edge,” having trouble making
decisions, experiencing sleeping problems, feeling unable to complete coursework, or being too afraid to take appropriate action.

In some cases, students may experience a panic attack in which the physical symptoms are so spontaneous and intense they fear they are dying

Helpful Actions

  • Let the student discuss their feelings and thoughts in an appropriate setting; this alone often relieves a great deal of pressure.
  • Provide reassurance.
  • Be clear and directive.
  • Talk slowly and remain calm.
  • Discern whether you can respond adequately to the student’s concerns or if a referral is necessary.
  •  Provide a safe and quiet environment until the symptoms subside.

Unhelpful Actions

  • Minimizing the perceived threat to which the student is reacting.
  • Taking responsibility for the student’s emotional state.
  • Becoming anxious or overwhelmed yourself.


  • Learn more about Counseling Services at
  • Lean more about de-stressing techniques through The Office of BroncoFit at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Grieving Student

Reaching Out

When someone suffers a loss, it disrupts their sense of the order of things and can sometimes lead to feelings that life is out of control and meaningless. People may deal with the death of
a parent, sibling, family member, friend, classmate, or other forms of loss.

These losses may be accidental, may be sudden, or may be the result of a long illness. An entire campus or academic department may grieve the death of a beloved professor or classmate. Feelings are often compounded by a sense of shock and a longing for the opportunity to “say goodbye.”
The loss of meaning and control adds distress to grief. Regaining meaning and a sense of control may help students endure the grieving process. Those experiencing grief tend to function better within an already established support system. Grief is a natural process but may become complicated (e.g., the person may become depressed and not able to function),
and therefore need some type of intervention.
If you are aware that someone is grieving or has experienced a loss, they may be experiencing some of the common grief reactions. These reactions to loss may include:

• Physical Reactions
• Cognitive Reactions
• Emotional Reactions
• Fatigue/exhaustion
• Difficulties concentrating
• Guilt
• Sleep disturbance
• Difficulties solving problems
• Feelings of helplessness
• Change in appetite
• Intrusive thoughts
• Anger/irritability/moodiness
• Headaches
• Preoccupation with the event
• Sense of hopelessness

Helpful Actions

  • Listen carefully. This can help a student gain an understanding of their feelings and clarify options for dealing with them.
  • Encourage the person to be with, or connect with, family and friends, which may mean
    taking time away from classes or the university.
  • Be aware that family may be urging the person to stay at school or at work, even though
    the person longs to be at home (particularly with the death or imminent death of
    a parent).
  • Encourage the student to talk with someone about their feelings, fears, and
  • Encourage the student to access our Grief Resource page at

Unhelpful Actions

  • Feeling pressure to “say the right thing” or break silences. Your supportive and caring presence can be comforting.
  • Forcing discussion about death and loss.
  • Minimizing the loss and be suggestive that one must just move forward.
  • Judging the person’s response to loss, unless it seems extreme or frightening to you, in which case you should consider walking the person to Counseling Services for walk-in Crisis Counseling or calling Campus Security and Police Services (208) 426-6911.


  • Learn more about Counseling Services at
  • Find grief resources at
  • Lean more about Boise State’s recognized student absence policy at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Student Who is Engaging in Self-Injury

Self-injury is defined as any damage intentionally caused to one’s own body. This behavior is also referred to as self-harm or self-mutilation. Like substance abuse, self-injurious behavior can be linked to no single cause. Even though there is always the possibility that a self-inflicted injury could be fatal, self-injury is not considered to represent a suicide attempt.

Self-injury usually occurs when people feel overwhelmed by their emotions and are desperate to find relief from intense feelings, pressure, or anxiety. Self-injurious behavior often leaves scars resulting from permanent tissue damage. Common methods of injuring oneself include (but are not limited to) the following behaviors:

• Cutting
• Burning (or “branding” with hot objects)
• Picking at skin or re-opening wounds
• Hair-pulling (trichotillomania)
• Head-banging
• Hitting (with a hammer or other objects)
• Bone-breaking via a number of methods

Helpful Actions

  • Speak honestly to the student about your concerns and describe specifically what you have observed that makes you suspect they have been engaging in self-injury.
  • Encourage the student to make an appointment with Counseling Services to help them
    deal with the distress that is compelling the behavior.
    • If the student is hesitant to make an appointment for themselves, offer to call for them,
    and/or consult with a counselor in Counseling Services.


  • Learn more about Counseling Services at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Student Who is Bipolar

Reaching Out

Bipolar Disorder, or manic-depression, is a type of mental illness that involves a disorder of affect or mood. The student’s mood usually swings between overly “high” or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, with periods of normal mood in between. Bipolar disorder usually begins in late adolescence, often appearing as depression during teen years.

Signs of Bipolar Disorder Include:

“The highs”

  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Reckless behavior such as spending
    sprees, erratic driving, rash decisions
  • Extreme irritability and distractibility
    Excessive “high” or euphoric feelings
    Increased energy, activity, restlessness
  • Racing thoughts, rapid speech
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol

“The Lows”

  • Inability to sleep or oversleeping
  • Persistent sad and/or anxious mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Decreased energy, fatigue
  • Inability to concentrate, make decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Helpful Actions

  • Speak directly to the student about your concerns and be concrete in describing the behavior that concerns you.
  • Encourage the student to make an appointment with a counselor at Counseling Services to explore what might be causing their distress.
  • If the student is not in a state to be reasoned with (manic, distorted thinking, psychotic), contact Counseling Services at (208) 426-6911 to consult on how best to proceed to help the student during business hours. If it is after business hours,
    call Public Safety at (208) 426-6911

Unhelpful Actions

  • Minimizing the seriousness of the student’s presenting behavior.
  • Making demands that the student see a professional (they may be feeling great and not realize anything is wrong).
  • Becoming involved with the student beyond your level of expertise.
  • Ignoring signs of suicidal tendencies, loss of interest or pleasure in activities.


  • Learn more about Counseling Services at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Student in Poor Contact with Reality

Reaching Out

These students have difficulty distinguishing their thoughts and perceptions from reality. Their thinking is typically illogical, confused, or irrational (e.g., speech patterns that jump
from one topic to another with no meaningful connection); their emotional responses may be out of control, and their behavior may appear bizarre and disturbing.

The student may experience hallucinations (often auditory), and may report hearing voices (e.g., statements that someone is threatening to harm or control them). If you cannot make
sense of a student’s statements, contact Counseling Services at (208) 426-1459 as soon as possible

Helpful Actions

  • Respond with warmth, kindness, and firm reasoning.
  • Remove extra stimulation from the environment (turn off the radio, step outside of a noisy classroom).
  • Explain your concerns and assist the student in getting help. Contact Counseling Services as soon as possible (208) 426-1459.
  • Acknowledge the student’s feelings or fears without supporting the misperception (“I understand you think someone is following you, and it must seem real to you, but I don’t see anyone.”)
  • Acknowledge that you are having difficulty understanding the student and ask for clarification.
  • Focus on the here and now

Unhelpful Actions

  • Arguing or trying to convince the student of the irrationality of their thinking, as this commonly reinforces the false perception.
  • Encouraging further discussion of the delusional processes or playing along with the
    student’s delusion (“Oh, yes, I hear voices, too.”)
  • Demanding, commanding, or ordering the student to do something to their perceptions.
  • Expecting customary emotional responses.


  • Learn more about Counseling Services at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Disruptive Student

Reaching Out

It is expected that by the time students reach college they will know how to behave in a classroom. Unfortunately, college instructors often experience, on a daily basis, students who are
chronically late, who talk to friends during class, who eat or sleep in class, and who engage in arguments with instructors or other students.

Although disruptive behaviors have annoying or disrespectful qualities, these behaviors may be due to underlying emotional distress. Each type of disruptive behavior requires a different
set of responses by the university.

Rebellious and escalating disruptions need to be addressed behaviorally through disciplinary action, whereas disruptive behavior precipitated by emotional distress may require consultation with counseling staff.

Helpful Actions

  • Invite the student to speak in a private area (if you feel safe). Acknowledge the emotions if the student seems upset, angry, or frustrated. “Sarah, I notice you seem frustrated.”
  • Briefly state your concern. “Sarah, I am concerned that you have been late for class every
    day since the beginning of semester.”
  • Let the student talk, ask for clarification if necessary. “I am not sure what you mean by
    it ‘not getting through.’ Could you tell me more?”
    • Focus on the behavior and clearly state the expectations and that the consequences of continued disruption may result in disciplinary action. “If you continue to disrupt the class by coming in late and greeting your friends, I will have to report this to the
    department chair and you may be removed from my class.”
  • If unsure how to proceed in a particular situation, consult with your department head,
    the Dean of Students Office, and/or Counseling Services staff member.

Unhelpful Actions

  • Becoming defensive or getting into an argument or shouting match.
  • Acting hostile or punitive. “I’m going to have you thrown out of this class!”


  • Learn more about Counseling Services at
  • Learn more about The Office of the Dean of Students at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Student Under the Influence

Reaching Out

Alcohol is the most widely used – psychoactive drug and the preferred drug on college campuses. It is common to find that students who abuse alcohol are also abusing other drugs,
both prescription and illicit. Fads and peer pressure affect patterns of use.

Binge drinking, defined as five drinks in a row for men, and four for women, is popular and can quickly become lethal. Other adverse effects of alcohol consumption include: hangovers, hospitalization for alcohol overdose, poor academic performance, class absences, injury, and unprotected sexual activity.

Faculty and staff members often recognize substance abuse problems when a student’s irresponsible, unpredictable behavior affects the learning situation (e.g., drunk and disorderly conduct in class), or when a combination of the health and social impairments associated with alcohol or drug abuse sabotages student performance.

Another commonly abused substance is marijuana/cannabis. Understand that cannabis remains illegal in the state of Idaho, and consumption is considered a serious offense. Cannabis can be consumed in many forms, i.e. edible, smoking, water pipes, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS, “vaping”), etc., though ENDS use, commonly referred to as vaping, is increasing in popularity. Note that all forms of “smoking or vaping” are prohibited at Boise State (Policy, 9110).

Be aware that substance abuse may result in overly aggressive behavior. In such cases, remain calm and get help if necessary (send a student for a staff person, faculty member, department chair, or security officer). Stay safe by retaining access to a door, knowing whom to call (Campus Security and Police, (208) 426-6911, for emergencies call 911.), and keeping furniture (e.g., a desk) between you and the student. Do not threaten, corner, or touch the student

Helpful Actions

  • Privately confront the student about the specific, observed behavior that concerns you.
  • Offer support and concern for their well-being.
  • Suggest the student talk with someone about these issues and maintain contact with the student after a referral is made.
  • If the behavior continues, consult with your department head and the Dean of Students
    Office (208) 426-1527.

*The above may be helpful only when the student is sober again.

Unhelpful Actions

  • Conveying judgment or criticism of the student’s substance abuse.
  • Making allowances for the student’s irresponsible behavior.
  • Ignoring signs of intoxication in the classroom.


  • Learn more about Counseling Services at
  • Learn more about The Office of the Dean of Students at
  • Learn more about Alcohol Education through The Office of BroncoFit at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Student Who is a Victim of Stalking

Reaching Out

Stalking is a series of behaviors that would make a reasonable person feel threatened, intimidated, annoyed, or afraid. A stalker is much more likely to be someone the student knows than not. A stalker may start with small, annoying, persistent actions and progress to criminal behavior. Some examples of stalking behavior are:

• Trying to start or keep a relationship that the person does not want
• Threatening the person or the safety of someone close to the person
• Becoming physically aggressive with the person
• Unwanted repeated communication through phone calls, text messages, email messages,
social media posts, etc. following the person

Required Actions

In the case that the abuse falls within a “Clery Crime”, all *Campus Security Authorities (CSAs) must report the incident on the “CSA Crime Reporting Form” found here:

*Note, all faculty and staff of Boise State are CSAs. For a complete list of what qualifies a person as a CSA, see the Campus Security Authority page, found at the same address.
For a list of definitions of what qualifies as a “Clery Crime” see the Cleary Crimes Definitions page, found at the same address.

Helpful Actions

  • Encourage the student to not deal with this potentially dangerous situation by themselves and validate their confiding in you about the situation. Encourage the
    student to tell their parents or another trusted adult immediately.
  • Advise the student to stay alert – pay attention, to the stalker – and to yourself. Never ignore the first signs of stalking. You have a creepy feeling about someone?
    Sit up and take notice. Always trust your instincts.
  • Suggest the student consider talking to the Gender Equity Center, the Title IX Coordinator, and/or Public Safety, who can assist you with documentation and
    confronting a stalker.
  • Impress upon the student the importance to document thoroughly. Write down all
    the stalker’s behavior in detail.

Unhelpful Actions

  • Minimizing the potential danger of the situation.
  • Discounting the student’s concerns and anxiety.
  • Ignoring the problem.


  • Find the Support and Reporting Options for Survivors page at
  • Learn more about the services and support offered through the Gender Equity Center at
  • Learn more about Counseling Services at
  • Learn more about the Department of Public Safety at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Student Who is Victim of Relationship Violence

Reaching Out

Relationship violence is a term used to describe abuse within a relationship that is
psychological, emotional, sexual, or physical. Abusive behaviors may include: physical abuse,
verbal abuse, name-calling, sexual violence, isolation, coercion, harassment, economic
control, abusing trust, threats, and intimidation, emotional withholding, destruction of
property, or self-destructive behavior.

Victims may not report this crime for a number of reasons, including fear of retaliation or
increased abuse, isolation from support systems, diminished sense of self-worth, economic
inability, commitment to the relationship, self-blame, hope that the abuser will change, or
threats made to the victim, children, or pets.

A student who is the victim of relationship violence may experience a number of academic
challenges, such as inability to concentrate, emotional trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder,
physical harm, or an abuser preventing the student from attending class or completing
course work

Required Actions

In the case that the abuse falls within a “Clery Crime”, all *Campus Security Authorities
(CSAs) must report the incident on the “CSA Crime Reporting Form” found here:

*Note, all faculty and staff of Boise State are CSAs. For a complete list of what qualifies a
person as a CSA, see the Campus Security Authority page, found at the same address.
For a list of definitions of what qualifies as a “Clery Crime” see the Cleary Crimes
Definitions page found at the same address.

Helpful Actions

  • Listen to and believe the student.
  • Understand the seriousness of all forms of abuse.
  • Respect the student’s right to make their own decisions.
  • Help the student to identify resources such as the Gender Equity Center, Counseling
    Services, Health Services, the Title IX Coordinator, Public Safety, the police, the WCA,
    and FACES that can help them establish a safety plan (see below).
  • Offer to accompany them to a place of support if you are able.
  • Let the student know that if the abuser has threatened harm to another person, as a
    Campus Security Authority (CSA), you are required to report this to Public Safety,
    Title IX, and the police.
  • Let the student know that if the abuser has harmed any children or harmed them in the
    presence of children you are required to report to Public Safety, Compliance, and police.

Unhelpful Actions

  • Minimizing abuse that is not physical – all forms of abuse can be traumatic.
  • Blaming the student for staying in the relationship-the dynamics of relationship violence are complex and the victim is NEVER at fault for the abuser’s behaviors.
  • Telling the student something is wrong with them if they have not left the
    relationship-this reinforces the abuser’s messages of low self-worth.
  • Giving advice or pressuring for decisions – the student knows the dynamics of the abusive relationship best and they will know what feels safe and what actions may put their lives in danger.
  • Criticizing the abuser instead of the abuser’s behavior – this may cause defensiveness in the student.


  • Find the Support and Reporting Options for Survivors page at
  • Learn more about the services and support offered through the Gender Equity Center at
  • Learn more about Counseling Services at
  • Learn more about the Department of Public Safety at
  • Learn more about FACES of Hope at
  • Learn more about the WCA at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Student Who is Victim of Sexual Assault

Reaching Out

Consent is only granted through clear verbal means. There are many emotional and
psychological reactions that victims of rape and/or sexual assault and violence can experience.
One of the most common of these is depression. Additionally, survivors of sexual assault may
experience severe feelings of anxiety, stress, or fear, known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
(PTSD), as a direct result of the assault.

Required Actions

As a qualifying “Clery Crime”, all *Campus Security Authorities (CSAs) must report
incidents of sexual assault on the “CSA Crime Reporting Form” found here:

*Note, all faculty and staff of Boise State are CSAs. For a complete list of what qualifies a
person as a CSA, see the Campus Security Authority page, found at the same address.
For a list of definitions of what qualifies as a “Clery Crime” see the Cleary Crimes
Definitions page found at the same address.

Helpful Actions

  • When possible, speak to the person in private. Disclose to the student that as a Campus
    Security Authority (CSA), you are required to report acts of sexual violence. Be aware that when a person discloses information about an assault to you, they are demonstrating trust in you and the desire for help.
  • Listen without conveying judgment. Victims can feel shame and anger towards
  • Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement. Respect the
    student’s right to make decisions that are helpful in maintaining privacy, keeping safe,
    and obtaining support.
  • Refer the student to the Support and Reporting Options for Survivors page at
  • Offer to walk the person to Counseling Services for walk-in Crisis Counseling.
  • Offer to help get the person to FACES of Hope for a SANE exam, crisis counseling,
    reporting to BPD, etc.

Unhelpful Actions

  • Minimizing the situation.
  • Telling other people about the incident, except for those who need to know.
  • Conveying negative judgment even when high-risk behavior, such as intoxication,
    is involved.
  • Assuring the student you can ensure confidentiality. You can ensure that you will keep it
    as private as possible.
  • Putting extra pressure on the person to make a police report.
  • Delaying referring the person to a sexual harassment advisor, or other supportive professional or service.


  • Learn more about the services and support offered through the Gender Equity Center at
  • Find the Support and Reporting Options for Survivors page at
  • Learn more about Counseling Services at
  • Learn more about the Department of Public Safety at
  • Learn more about FACES of Hope at
  • Learn more about the WCA at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Aggressive Student

Reaching Out

Students usually become aggressive in situations they perceive as beyond their control.
Sometimes feelings of anger are displaced from the situation onto the nearest target
(i.e., you).

If a student becomes violent, remain calm and get help if necessary (send a student for a staff person, faculty member, department chair, or security officer). Stay safe by retaining access to
a door, knowing whom to call (if not an emergency call Campus Security and Police, (208)
426-6911, for emergencies, call 911.), and keeping furniture (e.g., a desk) between you and the student. Do not threaten, corner, or touch the student.

Take all threats of violence seriously. Clarify what is meant by asking, “What do you mean
by that?” or saying, “I am taking your words very seriously.” Call Campus Security and Police for consultation; inform your supervisor or department head of the situation.

Helpful Actions

  • Pay attention to the warning signs (e.g., body language, clenched fists).
  • Acknowledge the student’s anger and frustration ( I hear how angry you are”).
    • Rephrase what they are saying and identify the emotion ( “I can hear how upset you are,
    and you feel like nobody will listen.”).
  • Reduce stimulation by inviting the student to a quiet place, if you feel safe.
  • Be straightforward and firm about the types of behavior you will not accept
  • (“I need for you to step back.”).
  • If the situation appears to be escalating consider removing yourself from the situation
    and calling Public Safety.
  • If you become desperate and are convinced you will be harmed if you don’t capitulate,
    say whatever you need to in order to escape to safety, even if you don’t mean it, (e.g.,
    “Okay, I guess I can see your point and will give you a passing grade.”).
  • Debrief the incident with your supervisor or department chair.

Unhelpful Actions

  • Becoming defensive or getting into an argument or shouting match.
  • Pressing for an explanation of their behavior.
  • Acting hostile or punitive (“I’m going to give you an F in this class.”).


  • Learn more about crisis intervention at Counseling Services at
  • Learn more about the Department of Public Safety at
  • Submit a CARE report at

The Student Who Presents as Threatening

Reaching Out

All encounters have the potential for escalation into violence, and that escalation has predictable and identifiable, behaviors. There are two forms of violence:

Impromptu Violence – Spontaneous, unplanned, usually emotionally driven, violent outburst in reaction to circumstances of an event.(Example: receiving a perceived unjustified failing grade in a class)

Intended Violence – Planned, premeditated attack on a specific target.
(Example: stalking a former relationship partner with intent to harm)

Important Observations

a) If you know the person, reflect on all levels of functioning – any mental impairment,
head injury, alcohol use? These compromise impulse control.

b) Do you observe signs of agitation: foot tapping, pacing, facial contortions, etc.

c) Trust your gut – if the situation feels dangerous, leave it or get help ASAP.

d) If there is any physical aggression – throwing something, bashing walls – call the Public
Safety at (208) 426-6911 or call 911.

Helpful Actions

  • Personal Space: Resist the urge to get close initially and stay far enough back that they can’t reach you to hit or kick. Once they are calm, it may be okay to move to a closer range.
  • Body Language: Assume a non-threatening stance.
  • Communication: Use moderation with eye contact, keep voice tone calm and even, and volume low. Give more information, reframe to the positive. Identify behaviors you are observing and the consequences if they continue.
  • Setting Limits: Redirect back to a task. If the incident is public say, “I can see you are really upset. Can we go down the hall/step into this room, and talk about it?”
  • Empathize, yet be firm…. “I understand this doesn’t make sense to you.”

Unhelpful Actions

  • Do not make threats or tell them you’ll have them arrested. You can say, “If you don’t
    calm down, I will call the police.” Ask them to step back if in your space. Usually, they will honor that, if not, call Campus Security or Police.


  • Learn more about crisis intervention at Counseling Services at
  • Learn more about the Department of Public Safety at
  • Submit a CARE report at
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