Sometimes staff and faculty become concerned about a student's well-being. The student may be behaving unusually, or you may have noticed changes in his or her personal appearance or academic performance. Here are some guidelines to follow when you have identified a student fo concern: 

  • Check-in with the student. Make sure to do this in a quiet, private environment where they feel comfortable to answer truthfully. And be prepared for a response using the tips below on how to talk to a student who is struggling. 
  • If you have colleagues who also teach or advise the student, it can be helpful to check in with them to see if they have noticed similar changes. 
  • Contact the Counseling Center to consult about how to talk to a student of concern. A referral to the Counseling Center may be appropriate*.
  • You may want to contact the Dean of Students if you would like someone to determine if official action should be taken. 
  • You can fill out a Student of Concern form if you would like a select group of professionals on campus to monitor the situation and intervene if necessary. 
  • If the student is in immediate physical danger, call Public Safety
  • Whatever action you take, be sure to check back later to see how the student is doing. 

*Remember, the Counseling Center cannot disclose personal information without student consent. However, we can listen to your concerns, which may help us support that student. 

How to Talk to a Student Who is Having a Hard Time


  • Do stay calm and be present. Talk slowly and use reassuring tones. Encourage the students to breathe and take his or her time when talking.
  • Do ask simple questions. Repeat them if necessary, using the same words each time.
  • Do validate by repeating or paraphrasing what the student is saying, or reflecting what he or she is feeling.

"I'm here." "I care." "I want to help." "How can I help you?" "I hear how difficult this has been." "I see that you are angry/sad/afraid."


  • Don't threaten to call Public Safety unless you intend to do so. When you call Public Safety, police and/or an ambulance are likely to come. This may make the student more upset, so use this option only when the student is in imminent danger.
  • Don't invalidate by criticizing or minimizing the student's experience

Don't say "Snap out of it." "Get over it." "Stop acting crazy." "There's nothing wrong."