Refering to CAPS

Signs and Symptoms of Distress

  • Dramatic decline in academic performance and/or classroom attendance
  • Seems distressed about academic or personal life
  • Excessive sleeping, social isolation or lack of self-care
  • Demonstration of extreme emotion
  • Paranoid statements, talk of suicide, or incoherent speech

CALL 785-864-CAPS IMMEDIATELY if a student is:

  • Out of touch with reality
  • Suicidal or homicidal
  • Unable to take care of him/herself in routine ways

CAPS Clinical Staff will consult with you about an appropriate course of action.

No matter what the issue, large or small, you do not have to struggle with it alone. Call us, We are here to consult with you.

Suggestions for Referring to CAPS

  • Express your concern privately.
  • Do not to use labels (e.g., “you have an eating disorder.”)
  • Talk about the specific, observable behaviors that may suggest the need for counseling (e.g., “I am concerned because I notice you have missed several classes.”)
  • Emphasize that counseling can be an effective tool for dealing with everyday problems.
  • Offer to make the referral or to be with the student while he or she calls CAPS.
  • If appropriate, go to the counseling center with the student.
  • Remember that you are not responsible for making the person ready to change, but you can provide him or her with the opportunity to get assistance.

Myths About Counseling

  • Counseling is a sign of weakness.
  • Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes courage to address problem areas and examine painful feelings.
  • Entering counseling is taking the first step in resolving difficulties.

Counseling is only for people with serious emotional problems.

  • Counseling is like seeing a doctor – you don’t go to a doctor only if you have a heart attack. It can be helpful to see a doctor if you have the flu.
  • Students often benefit from counseling for issues such as academic difficulty, relationship problems, adjustment concerns, managing stress, or choosing a major.

Increased Severity of Psychological Problems Among Students

Being able to refer students for psychological assistance is becoming increasingly important as the incidence of students on college campuses with severe psychological problems is on the rise.

  • The staff at the Kansas State University Counseling Center examined client problems and found increases in 14 of 19 client problem areas examined from 1988-89 through 2000-2001. The number of students with depression doubled during the 13-year period, the number of suicidal clients tripled, and the number of students seen after a sexual assault quadrupled.
  • More than 50% of college students acknowledged experiencing significant depression during their college years, nearly 10% report having had suicidal thoughts (Furr, et al., 2001), and more than 50% of freshmen show clinical elevations on the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2) (Osberg & Polland, 2002).
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at the University of Kansas recently completed a survey of the prevalence of suicidal ideation verbalized by CAPS clients in counseling sessions occurring from January 2002 through January 2003. The survey found that suicidal ideation was present in 8% (357) of the total counseling sessions (4450) included in the study.


  • Benton, S.A., Robertson, J.M., Tseng, W.C., Newton, F.B., & Benton, S.L. (2003). Changes in counseling center client problems across 13 years. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 34, 66-72.
  • Gallagher, R.P., Gill, A.M., & Sysco, H.M. (2000). National survey of counseling center directors 2000. Alexandria, VA: International Association of Counseling Service.
  • Osberg, T.M., & Polland, D.L. (2002). Comparative accuracy of the MMPI-2 and the MMPI-A in the diagnosis of psychopathology in 18 year olds. Psychological Assessment, 14, 164-169.