Responding to Students in Distress - A Guide for Faculty and Staff

If you observe behaviour that is violent, destructive, harmful or threatening to self or others, call

Campus Security 250-862-5401 or 6699 and/or Emergency Services 9-1-1

Urgent After-Hours Community Services

Crisis/Suicide Line: 1-888-353-2273 (24 hour phone support)

1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-787-2433 (24 hour phone support) text 778-783-0177 (online chat and e-counselling up to 30 years of age, accessible 6pm - midnight)

Emergencies: 9-1-1

Campus Support Services

Counselling Services
  • Kelowna Campus: Ext. 4119
  • Penticton Campus: Ext. 3200
  • Salmon Arm Campus: Ext. 8200
  • Vernon Campus: Ext. 2200
Aboriginal Services
  • Kelowna Campus: Ext. 4682
  • Penticton Campus: Ext. 3280
  • Salmon Arm Campus: Ext. 8275
  • Vernon Campus: Ext. 2284
Accessibility Services
  • Kelowna Campus: Ext. 4730
  • Penticton Campus: Ext. 3242
  • Salmon Arm Campus: Ext. 8211
  • Vernon Campus: Ext. 2209
International Education
  • Kelowna Campus: Ext. 5443
Other Student Services
  • Kelowna Campus: Ext. 4119
  • Penticton Campus: Ext. 3200
  • Salmon Arm Campus: Ext. 8200
  • Vernon Campus: Ext. 2200


Student Wellbeing

Everyone has a part to play in supporting student wellbeing. You don't need to take on the role of Counsellor, but you can connect students with additional supports.


Pay attention. Take note of any warning signs or unusual behaviour.

Say something. An active response is better than staying silent. It's okay to share your concerns with a colleague, supervisor or Counselling Services.

Make a referral. Offer to connect the student with Student Services.

Employee Support

As an employee, assisting a student in distress can have an effect on your own wellbeing. Don’t shoulder this concern alone.

Debrief with a colleague, supervisor or chair or take advantage of the Employee and Family Assistance Program for confidential counselling and other services. Visit for more information.

Reporting Student Behaviour Text

Quick Reference Guide

Common Signs of Student Distress
  • Noticeable changes in academic performance - e.g. missing classes, assignments done poorly or handed in late, decrease in participation in class activities, confusing written assignments
  • Noticeable changes in appearance or behaviour - e.g. poor hygiene; confusion; emotional upset; agitation; verbal disruption; social isolation
  • Signs of excessive alcohol or drug use
  • Concerning communications - e.g. written (emails, texts, assignments) or verbal indications of confusion, high levels of stress, conflict, affression, loneliness, hopelessness, depression, etc
  • Expressed thoughts or feelings indicating potential harm to self or others - e.g. written or verbal references to suicide; intention or threats to harm self or others; language indicating deep confusion, desperation or isolation; expressions of imminent violence
Assisting a Student in Distress
  1. Calmly approach the student in a safe, discreet setting. Share your concerns for his or her wellbeing.
  2. Listen openly. Acknowledge the student's thoughts and feelings with compassion. Clarify with the student what you thought you heard.
  3. Remind the student that there are helpful services available (e.g. Counselling). Offer to connect the student with the appropriate service via the Student Services Administration Office (KLO) or your Campus Administration Office.
  4. After offering support to the student, feel free to debrief with a colleague, chair, supervisor or Counselling Services on your interaction. Also, it's good practice to keep a record of your concerns.
If a Student Says "No" to a Referral
  • If it's not an emergency, respect the student's right to decline
  • Offer the services and leave the door open in case he or she should reconsider
  • Say something like: "I respect your decision. I hope you'll keep these options in mind. My mind is always open."