Identifying and Responding to Distressed Students

Help is Available!

The Counseling Office are staffed by  Licensed  Mental Health Counselors. Counseling Services offers short-term therapy sessions, crisis counseling, consultation to faculty & staff and referrals to off campus psychiatrists and therapists.

Additionally, Counseling Services offers a variety of outreach programs and workshops. All counseling services are confidential  in keeping with Massachusetts State Laws.

Who Do I Contact?

Marcia Winters, LCSW, LMHC, Coordinator of Counseling

During hours of operation, a counselor is available to handle any crisis that may arise.  Please feel free to call the Counseling Services at 978-556-3644. We may recommend that you  walk the individual to our office.  Additionally, the counselor is available for consultation should you wish to discuss concerns you have about a student.

Hours of Operation

Monday: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Tuesday: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Wednesday: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Thursday: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Friday: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm

After hours, you should always contact Public Safety first at 978-556-3333, and they will get in touch with the appropriate parties.

Faculty/Staff Response to Student Concerns

Keep in mind the following as you interact with the student:

  • Remain calm and in control
  • Show that you care
  • Ask directly if the student is thinking of suicide. Never leave a student alone if they are suicidal
  • Be honest with the student about the fact you need to contact Counseling Services
  • Listen to the student and respond empathetically
  • Get the student’s name
  • Set limits, be clear and explicit
  • Respect personal space
  • Walk the student to Counseling if possible
  • Let the student make their own decision when possible; encourage going to the Counseling Center
  • Tell the student Counseling Services are confidential

It is important for you to take the time to  listen to any student who may come to you to talk about their concerns.  Listen to what the student is saying and their possible feelings and intentions.  Listen not only to what is being said but also the way things are being said (tone, expressions, gestures).  If a student alludes to the details of where, when, or how she/he may be contemplating suicide, do not leave the student alone.  Immediately consult, refer and follow-up on the situation.  Do not attempt to determine whether the individual is serious about their talk of suicide.

It is important to note that NECC does not expect you to assume the role of counselor, always call Counseling Services for consultation  X3644

When to Seek Assistance

If a student displays any of the following symptoms, it may indicate that she/he is experiencing psychological distress.  To prevent possible overreaction to a single or an isolated behavior, it is advisable to look for clusters of signs that appear at approximately the same time.

  • Consistent discrepancy between performance and potential
  • Frequent absences
  • Failure to complete assignments
  • Fascination with weapons
  • Inattentiveness in class
  • Changes in behaviors in class
  • Unusual or bizarre behavior (talking to oneself, hurting oneself saying things that don’t make sense)
  • Coming to class with injuries
  • Hostility towards instructors/students
  • Verbal/written assignments dealing with dying, harming oneself, no reason to live
  • Coming to class drunk/high
  • When a student says they were sexually assaulted
  • Withdrawing from social interaction
  • Unwillingness to communicate
  • Insomnia
  • Spells of unexplained crying or outbursts of anger
  • Unusual irritability
  • Physical symptoms (loss of appetite, excessive eating, insomnia, excessive sleeping, lethargy, headaches, gastrointestinal distress)
  • Drinking/drug abuse or dependence

If you have a “gut feeling” that a student is in trouble, go with that and ask for assistance.

Be sure to refer whenever a student presents a problem or requests information that is outside your range of knowledge, you feel uncomfortable with the issue at hand, a student is reluctant to speak with you,  or a student is becoming over reliant on you.

Additionally, please note that educational laws allow for communication within the academic setting, specifically to counseling and student affairs personnel.  Whenever you speak to a student, do not promise confidentiality. Allow yourself the opening to talk with someone else who can help.

Understand that you may also have feelings of concern or unease after the interaction. Your help to a student may be rejected. They may want to contact Counseling at a later date. Please feel free to contact the Counseling Center to discuss the situation and interaction.

Counseling Services are available to meet with faculty and staff  individually, small groups,  and departments to assist them in defining strategies to deal with concerns.  Examples of these may include:  Having a student in need of counseling or discussing the effect within the department of student behaviors.

For Emergency Situations

When it appears that a person is going to harm himself/herself or someone else
When a student is violent
When a student exhibits psychotic symptoms, acting with bizarre behaviors
When a student is intoxicated
When a student has been sexually assaulted
Risky or self destructive behaviors


Public Safety at 978-556-3333

After hours, you should always contact Public Safety first, and they will get in touch with the appropriate parties.

If you are in a classroom and need to get immediate help for a student and do not have a phone, borrow one from a student.

Counseling Services Location and Contact

Haverhill Campus

Phone 978-556-3644
Sport & Fitness Center (D Building)
Room D117

Lawrence Campus

Dimitry (L Building)
Room 115