Faculty & Staff Resources


Faculty and staff have regular contact with many students and as a result, may be the first point of contact for students when they begin to struggle. You can provide crucial help to students through empathetic listening, conveying acceptance, and offering support (e.g., resources). We know you may not always know what to say to a student who is having a hard time, and it may be difficult to recognize when a student is beginning to struggle. Below are several helpful tools and resources for you and students, signs indicating a student may benefit from counseling, and tips on how to respond when a student brings up concerning content.

Ways to Provide Support to Students

Include mental health resources in your syllabi, such as:

Contact information for Student Health Services and crisis supports.

Be familiar with your campus support services and mental health resources

Make thoughtful deadlines for assignments

  • Perhaps consider timing that may occur around legal and religious holidays
  • Consider when other tasks or assignments are also due for your course

How to Help Students in Distress?

Signs of a student who may be in distress

  • Missed assignments
  • Unusual and unexplained repeated absences
  • Sudden decline in academic performance
  • Exhibits “out of character” behavior
  • Unusual or excessive fatigue
  • Inappropriate or exaggerated behavior
  • Self-disclosure of personal distress
  • Alarming or worrisome content in assignments
  • Expresses despair and/or hopelessness, such as:
    • “Sometimes it feels like I’d be better off dead.”
    • “No matter what I do, nothing gets better.”
    • “Sometimes I wonder if it’s even worth being here at all.”
  • Mentions harming themselves or others

How to talk to a distressed student?

  • Staying calm, if you are calm, they may be calm as well
  • Speaking privately to the student by moving to a space out of earshot from others. If someone else approaches, say something like, “Hi, I am wrap here and will be over to be with you in a moment”
  • Approach from a caring and empathetic perspective, asking open-ended questions about how they are doing; allow the student to share and try to avoid making assumptions
  • Tell them what you are observing makes you concerned, and that it is out of character
  • Let them know you are here to listen and connect them to support if they need it. We have a team of clinicians on campus because we value student wellness. They are ready to reach out to you.
  • Normalize that experiencing stress outside of the classroom can impact academic performance
  • Share campus resources and ask if they need help in accessing them

What to say to a distressed student?

Below are some examples of what you can say to a student who may have shared with you that they are having a difficult time. Sometimes simply acknowledging what the student has said can be very supportive. Offering them resources can be helpful as well.

  • You are going through a lot, and it is expected that you may be having a hard time.
  • I’m sorry to hear what you are going through; can I give you some resources that may be helpful?
  • Have you tried visiting the “Zen Den” in the LAC library?
  • How can I help or support you?
  • Can I call or email mental health services on your behalf?
  • I may use a starfish alert and you will be notified. Is it okay for me to follow up with you?
  • Do I have your current information? I would like to forward your information to mental health services and will cc you on the email.
  • We have a team of clinicians on campus because we value student wellness. They are ready to reach out to you.
  • Someone will reach out to you from mental health services, please respond to them so they are able to help you.

Additional Resources

Here are some additional resources on how to support students’ mental health.