Assisting Students in Distress

Assisting a student in distress can be an effective step in getting a student connected to resources they need. If you find that you are uncomfortable doing so alone, call the Dean of Students Office or Student Health and Counseling to discuss your concerns. 

  • Make a plan. Do not approach the student of concern without first thinking through what you will say, what resources are available, and how you can ensure your own safety. Contact the Dean of Students or Student Health and Counseling if you have concerns. 
  • Alert a colleague of your plan. Do not meet with the student without letting a colleague know about your intention to do so. This can help ensure your own safety if need be. 
  • Talk to the student in private when both of you have time and are not rushed or preoccupied. Give the student your undivided attention.
  • Be direct and non-judgmental. Express your concern in behavioral, nonjudgmental terms. Be specific about what actions or behaviors you are concerned with.  
  • Listen to thoughts and feelings in a sensitive, non-threatening way. 
  • Communicate understanding by repeating back the essence of what the student has told you. Try to include both the content and feelings.
  • Refer. Point out that help is available and seeking help is a sign of strength. Tell the student what you know about the recommended person or service. 
  • Document and follow-up. Talk to the student the soon again to find out if they took action. Refer to BARC if needed.