When to Make a Referral

University faculty and staff play a central role in creating a caring, supportive environment for students and the VCU community. You are in a unique position to recognize students in distress. You are not expected to provide personal counseling to students; however, you can play an important role in encouraging students to use campus resources and bringing concerns to the attention of appropriate university officials. Examples of concerning behavior include changes in appearance, disciplinary problems, academic concerns, and/or acts of self-harm.

Common indicators of concern:

Academic Indicators

  • Persistent unexplained absences
  • Decline in quality/quantity of work
  • Extreme disorganization or erratic performance
  • Persistent and inappropriate demands for special permission (extensions, make-up work)
  • Disproportionate response to grades or other evaluations

Emotional Indicators

  • Significant change in mood
  • Inappropriate emotional outbursts, yelling or aggressive comments
  • Withdrawal or isolation from others
  • Expression of hopelessness or suicidal thoughts
  • Disturbing or disruptive social media comments

Physical Indicators

  • Deterioration in physical appearance or personal hygiene
  • Excessive fatigue, exhaustion
  • Noticeable cuts, bruises, burns
  • Disorganized speech, rapid or slurred speech; confusion
  • Substance abuse 

All members of the VCU community are strongly encouraged to report behaviors or incidents of concern. Please visit the Dean of Students Report It page for information on how and where to report various types of concerns. Under certain circumstances, faculty and staff are obligated to report acts of violence, threatening behavior or misconduct.  See VCU’s Duty to Report policy for specific information. Faculty and staff have a responsibility to immediately report incidents of prohibited conduct involving sexual assault, sexual exploitation and partner or relationship violence to the Title IX coordinator.

If you are concerned about a student:
1. Discuss the concern directly with the student.

2. Refer the student to appropriate resources.

3. Submit the concern online.

If a student appears to be in crisis, offer to walk them to University Counseling Services. Even if the student has been connected or referred to counseling, also submit the concern online so it can be routed to the appropriate behavioral intervention team. These teams receive reports from across the university and have the ability to centralize information, ensuring that concerns are assessed contextually and situationally.