Book by Bruce S. Sharkin
Review by Norris F. Manning
School of Business
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

College personnel routinely encounter students who are either in distress or on the verge of becoming distressed.  Classes, papers, reading assignments, jobs, relationships and the ever changing college environment increase the possibility of stressed students.  Anyone working at a college, especially an academic advisor, has the obligation to ensure that students in distress get the appropriate assistance.  College Students in Distress:  A resource guide for faculty, staff and campus community is an excellent primer to discover or reinforce how to recognize and assist students in distress.  

Sharkin begins by making the case that students are in more distress today than ever before and need assistance in dealing with the cause and manifestations of their distresses. Many of us who work with college students can provide anecdotal observations that support this conclusion.  He provides readers with insight into assisting different populations of students (students of color, international, gay and lesbian, athletes and graduate students) and discusses issues unique to assisting each population.

The most beneficial portions of the book are those sections that educate readers on how to recognize distress warning signs from students. Sharkin delves deeper into specific problems such as anxiety, suicide, substance abuse, and psychotic behavior. His chapters on “Approaching a Student with Your Concerns” and “The Referral Process” provide readers with specific steps needed to help students reach the appropriate campus resource for assistance: counseling services. He also clearly distinguishes between the role of the counselor and the role of the non-counselor in assisting students. This distinction is important because students in distress need proper attention from counseling professionals. Also included in this guide is an informative and useful section about mental health policies found on many college campuses. While not definitive in scope, the overview provides readers with a general sense of  campus policies which can serve to guide students in distress.

College Students in Distress is an essential resource for any advisor, faculty member, or staff member.  In this brief and accessible narrative, Sharkin provides limited, but adequate, information on how to recognize student distress -- both serious and common -- and how to make the appropriate referral.  This book serves to educate the campus regarding the function of the college counseling units.  Buy this book, read it and share it!

College Students in Distress:  A resource guide for faculty, staff and campus community. (2006). Book by Bruce S. Sharkin. Review by Norris F. Manning. Binghampton, NY:  Haworth Press, Inc., 140 pp.  (paperback). $19.95. ISBN # 0-7890-2525-6.
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