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Deroche Elementary
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Signs of Need for Professional Help

- Crisis Management Institute - 

After a school crisis, it is important to look at students to identify those who might need professional help. Following a death or tragedy, if a student or staff person's demeanor changes noticeably and remains so for a time, pay attention.

Physical Signs:

  • Changes in eating (more or less)
  • Changes in sleeping
  • Headaches, tummy aches
  • Loss of caring about personal hygiene, appearance
Emotional Signs: 
  • Persistent anxiety
  • Hope for reuniting with deceased
  • Clingy
  • Absence of grief
  • Fear of attachments
  • Appearing depressed or speaking of being depressed
  • Voicing only the negative or positive of the deceased in a way that seems noteworthy
Behavioral:
  • Aggression or displays of power
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Overachieving
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Daydreaming
  • Compulsive care-giver of others
  • Accident prone
  • Stealing, illegal activities, drug and alcohol abuse
  • Inability to speak of deceased
Cognitive:
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Confused or distorted thinking
  • Memory loss
  • Poor decision-making skills
Don't ignore your gut sense of how a child is doing. The above are indicators, but you know these kids. See what several others who know the child think.

Remember that what we observe is being filtered by our own history, cultural norms and beliefs. The best way to know what is going on with someone is to ask! Students are remarkably desirous of having someone who cares listen to them. Start by making a statement of observation. "You've looked depressed lately..." and just see how the student responds. "I just want to check in with you. It has been a really difficult time, and lots of us are struggling. I'm just wondering how you're doing?"

Confidentiality is an important thing to remember. We can talk about these students out of a place of caring and concern, but we must remember to guard their integrity and respect confidentiality.

We can often help families recognize changes in student behaviors and other signals that there is a need for help. Be sure to find out how to refer students both to school services and what the process is for referring families to outside agencies as well. Remember to keep a paper trail!