Strategies for responding

  • It’s okay to ask and express concern.
  • Be specific regarding the worries you have.

“I am concerned, you’ve missed three out of our last four seminars and now your assignment is two days late. Is everything okay?”

  • Meet in a private location and allow an adequate amount of time to talk.
  • Be patient and give your undivided attention.
  • Listen non-judgmentally.
  • Acknowledge their thoughts and feelings in a compassionate way.

“Sounds like some days you feel hopeless and think, why should I bother to get out of bed.”

  • Offer hope and reassure them you are concerned and want to help.

“You don’t have to be alone with this. I’m here and I know people who can help.”

  • Establish the benefits of support on campus.
  • Acknowledge success other students have had.
  • Provide the student with resources. If possible, write the information out for her/him.

“Let me write down the contact information for the service we talked about.  Remember they are here for a reason – a lot of students need their help at some point while they’re here.”

  • Offer to assist the student with the call.
  • Offer a followup meeting.
  • Ask others for help.
  • Realize your offer of assistance may be rejected. The student may not want to talk to a professional about what she/he is experiencing. Take time to listen to the student’s fears and concerns about seeking help. Let the student know you are offering the referral because of your concern for her/him.

“You don’t need to worry about confidentiality. Your counselling records are kept in a different place than your other University records.  No one ever needs to know you saw a counsellor.”

  • Offer hope and reassurance.

“I can see you’re feeling overwhelmed. I’m confidant with some help you can break this down into manageable steps that will help you move forward.”

  • Take the student’s concern(s) seriously.
  • Indicate future availability.
  • Followup in a few days. Ask if they found their appointment helpful.