Staff Tips for Talking to Students in Crisis

How can staff help fellow Spartans?

As we continue to grieve, process and heal after the events of Feb. 13, many students are looking for guidance and support. Many of these students may have not sought counseling and may not be aware of the services available to them. Your role as a staff member interacting with these students could be a positive and crucial one in identifying students who are in distress and assisting them to find the resources available to help themselves.

Being able to refer students to the available resources is the first step towards getting them the help they need. Please refer to the frequently updated crisis support page set up in response to the events of Feb. 13 for the latest updates on what is available

What Can I Do for Students as a Staff Member?

  1. Listen: It may be painful, but the best thing you can do for a student is to listen to them talk about the tragic event. Talking and journaling are healthy and natural ways for young adults to work through their reactions.

  2. Comfort: Feel free to hold and comfort students more during this time. They are reaching out to you for security right now, and a little extra love and affection can help.

  3. Reassure: You can also reassure a student that they are now safe. Remind them that you and university staff members are taking precautions to protect them.

  4. Be a good example: Actions speak louder than words, and, by your actions, you can set an example for your student on how to handle these reactions in a productive way.

  5. Seek help if a student is suffering severe problems: If a student has had serious losses, such as the death of a loved one, they may need more help. Encourage the student to see a professional if they are having extreme reactions to the tragic event, such as repeated nightmares, flashbacks, crying spells, behavior problems and panic reactions.

Behavioral Threat Assessment Team (BTAT)

Michigan State University's Behavioral Threat Assessment Team (BTAT) exists to facilitate a multidisciplinary, coordinated response to reports of students, employees, or other individuals on campus who have engaged in behavior indicating a possible threat of harm to self or other members of the campus community. Goals of the BTAT include:

  • Support a safe, productive working and learning environment
  • Educate the campus community to identify and report potential threats
  • Provide early, prompt, and effective intervention

You can learn more about the Behavioral Threat Assessment Team (BTAT) by visiting their website.