Counselling Services

Resources for faculty and staff

If you are concerned about a student, and would like to connect a student to immediate support, please call Student Services reception or your Campus Admin Office (see below for contact information).  They can help the student either connect with an OC counsellor, or in the absence of a counsellor, can connect the student with a trained volunteer to provide support and referral information. 

Student Services and Campus Admin offices are open between 8:30am-4:30pm Monday to Friday.

If this is an emergency, contact OC Security at 250-317-2435 or call 911.

View student in distress quick reference guide below or download the supporting students in distress pdf.

Three students studying as a group in the cafeteria on the Kelowna campus

Student in distress quick reference guide

When you observe signs indicating a student is in distress, you can assist by engaging with that student, providing information and offering to connect them with support services.

In most cases, when seeking advice it is not necessary to provide identifying information about the student. However, when there are concerns for immediate safety or a threat of harm to self or others, report immediately.

Common signs of 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, aggression, 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

  • Calmly approach the student in a safe, discreet setting. Share your concerns for his or her well-being.
  • Listen openly. Acknowledge the student's thoughts and feelings with compassion. Clarify with the student what you thought you heard.
  • 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.
  • 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 trust you've planted the seed.
  • Say something like: "I respect your decision. I hope you'll keep these options in mind. Support is available when you're ready."

Urgent after-hours community services

  • Crisis/Suicide Line 1-888-353-2273
  • 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-784-2433
  • text 778-783-0177
  • 1-877-857-3397
  • Campus Security 250-317-2435
  • Emergency Services 9-1-1

Useful information

Student well-being

Everyone has a part to play in supporting student well-being. 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 well-being. 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 Okanagan College Human Resources for more information.

Kelowna campus
Student Services Building (S111)

Vernon campus
Administration Building (A300)

Penticton campus
Ashnola Building (PL142)

Salmon Arm campus
Main Building (SA103)