Here's How to Help
At De Anza College, we believe that no one should struggle alone. Faculty members and classified professionals are in a unique position to help students who are in crisis.
Below you'll find a basic protocol for determining how to proceed when faced with a distressed or disruptive student. In addition, this webpage has useful tips for determining when students may be in need, and how to help them. Resources on this page include
- Warning signs: Possible signs of a crisis and what you can do
- Disruptive behavior: Actions that may require intervention or other response
- De-escalating a situation: Tips on how to interact with a student in crisis
- Expert resources: College programs and off-campus groups that can help
- Do's and don’ts: Additional tips and examples to consider
In most cases, an appropriate response can be determined by asking yourself this question:
Is the student a danger to self or others, or does the student need immediate assistance for any reason?
Your answer will help you determine how to proceed.
The student's conduct is clearly and imminently reckless, disorderly, dangerous or threatening. (This may include self-harm or a medical emergency.)
- Response: Call 911 or Campus Police at 408.924.8000
- Response: Call 911 or Campus Police at 408.924.8000
The student shows signs of distress. You're not sure how serious it is, but your interaction has left you feeling uneasy or concerned.
- Response: Call Health Services, Psychological Services or Campus Police. Submit an
- Response: Call Health Services, Psychological Services or Campus Police. Submit an online report.
You're not concerned about an immediate threat to safety, but the student is having personal or academic issues and could use more support or resources.
- Response: Refer them to Counseling (ext. 5400) or to Psychological Services (ext.
- Response: Refer them to Counseling (ext. 5400) or to Psychological Services (ext. 8868).
Possible Signs of Crisis
- Drastic change in academic performance, behavior, cognitive functioning, personality, weight, hygiene, energy level or habits
- Social isolation
- Mood swings, depression or agitation
- Misuse of drugs or alcohol
- Threats of harm to self or others
- Acts of aggression or disruptive behavior
- Exaggerated emotional response that is obviously inappropriate to the situation
What You Can Do
- Take threats seriously
- Educate yourself about how to assist students in crisis
- Learn about campus resources
- Speak to the student about your concern
- Share your concerns with your department leadership, the dean of Student Development or the Title IX coordinator
- When in doubt, consult with others
What Is Your Role?
Emotions and stress levels can run high at certain times during the academic year. However, if you notice a student acting out of character, you may be able to serve as a helpful resource. Your expression of interest and concern may be a critical factor in helping the student re-establish an emotional connection with family and friends. You may also alert our college staff to ensure a timely and appropriate intervention.
Disruptive student behavior may include actions that
- Interfere with other students, faculty or staff members
- Threaten the safety of the community
- Create an inappropriate academic or work environment.
Examples may include
- Threats of physical harm
- Yelling or screaming
- Persistent and unreasonable demands for time and attention
- Words or actions that intimidate or harass another
- Words or actions that cause others to fear for their personal safety
How to respond
Don’t ignore disruptive behavior. Remain calm. Remind yourself that this is not about you; it’s about the situation. Tell the individual that there are consequences for failing to improve their disruptive behavior. If possible, have someone else with you.
Disruptive behavior should be documented. Write a factual, detailed account of what occurred. Use concrete terms. Share the documentation.
- Be empathetic and nonjudgmental. Remember that whatever a person is experiencing might be the most vital thing in her or his life.
- Respect personal space. Permitting personal space tends to diminish a person’s uneasiness.
- Use nonthreatening “nonverbals.” Be aware of your movements, facial expressions and manner of speaking.
- Avoid overreacting. You can’t control someone else’s conduct, but your reaction will directly affect the outcome of the situation.
- Focus on feelings. Watch and listen deliberately for the person’s genuine message.
- Ignore challenging questions. Disregard the challenge, not the person. Focus on how you can cooperate to take care of the issue.
- Set limits. Be clear and offer positivity first.
- Choose wisely what you insist upon. Be considerate in choosing which rules are debatable and which are not.
- Allow silence for reflection. It can allow a person to consider what’s occurring and how they need to advance.
- Allow time for decisions. Stress rises when people feel pressured. Allowing time brings ease.
- Disability Support Services (DSS): Registration & Student Services Building (RSS), First Floor, Room 141; contact 408.864.8753
- Health Services: Campus Center, Lower Level; contact 650.864.8732 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Police: Campus Center, Lower Level; contact 650.949.7313 (non-emergency) or 408.924.8000 (emergency)
- Psychological Services: Registration & Student Services Building (RSS), First Floor, Room 127; contact 408.964.8868 or 855.278.4204 (crisis hotline)
- Student Development Office: Hinson Campus Center, Lower Level, Office 164; contact 408.864.8828
- Title IX Coordinator: Administrative Building (ADM), Office 122; contact 408.864.5394 or dactitleIX@deanza.edu
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Speak with a trained counselor at a 24-hour crisis center in this area, by calling 800.273.TALK (8255)
- YWCA Silicon Valley (ywca-sv.org): Connect with 24-hour crisis assistance and counseling services at 800.572.2782