Chronic Stress Intervention Strategies

Chronic Stress Intervention Strategies

  • Universities and colleges deploy a number of intervention strategies to
    help prevent and aid in the reduction of chronic stress within the student
    populations which they serve.

Primary interventions:

  • The most important primary intervention for universities/colleges is the
    counseling services department. This type of intervention is also known as
    a tertiary preventive intervention.
  • Training plays a vital role in the intervention process. It introduces
    counseling personnel to both students and staff. The referral process begins
    with appropriately trained student support staff.

Secondary Interventions:

  • Secondary preventative interventions include: Counseling workshops (Stress
    Management, Time Management, and Relationship Skills.), Health education
    workshops (Emotional wellness, physical wellness, etc.), Academic success
    workshops, De-Stress Activities during Final exam time periods.
  • Utilize student-lead peer organizations. Students can present relevant
    information to their peers.
  • Post up-to-date information on the web. Include anonymous screenings for
    common issues, alcohol-education sites, listings of peer organizations and
    other mental health groups and counselors, and any other campus health/wellness

Emergency/Non-emergency Interventions:

  • Emergency Situation (imminent threat of harm):
  • Call 911 or University Police
  • Stay with the student
  • Notify the Dean of Students and Counseling Services
  • Emergency Situation (Recent threat or harm):
    • Contact Counseling Services immediately and follow-up with the Dean of
  • Non Emergency
    • Contact Counseling Services for guidance and referral strategies and
      follow-up with the Dean of Students if you observe the following behaviors:
      Erratic behavior, excess sleep or not enough sleep, evidence of an eating
      disorder, depression, drug use including alcohol.


    • It is important to determine what resources are available to you when you
      refer a student. Most counseling services departments offer free, confidential
      counseling appointments with licensed staffers.

    How to refer

    • Build rapport with a student. Utilize attending skills and listen to what
      they have to say. Give the student your complete attention.
    • Determine the seriousness of the issue.
    • Refer the student —
    • See if the student will choose to self-refer
    • Re-summarize the issue
    • Raise the issue of seeking outside help
    • Assess the reaction to the suggestion
    • See if the student chooses an appropriate response
    • If student is unaware of resources, indicate appropriate support options
    • Focus on the positive aspects of seeking help
    • Talk about relevant procedures and allow student to contact support using
      your phone
    • Share relevant information with counseling personnel after securing permission
      from the student
    • Follow-up with the student to see if they kept their appointment
    • Finally, respect the student. In a non-emergency situation, it is the
      student’s choice to receive support


    • Counseling Services
    • Student Health Services
    • Career Services
    • Dean of Students
    • Academic Success Center


    A guide for smu faculty and staff: identifying and referring the distressed student. (n.d.). Retrieved Feb. 22, 2005, from Stress and College Students – Counseling and Testing – SMU Web site:

    Gottlieb, B. (Ed.). (1997). Coping with chronic stress. New York: Plenum Press.

    Kadison, R. (2004). The mental-health crisis: what colleges must do. Retrieved Feb. 22, 2005 , from The Chronicle Web site:

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