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Faculty & staff

As a faculty or staff member you may be the first person to see the signs that a student is in distress or they may have come to you for help. You are a vital link to connect students with resources.

Student Wellness staff are available during business hours to consult with faculty and staff regarding student wellbeing concerns at 250-721-7909.

After hours, or anytime, faculty and staff can consult with SupportConnect about how to support students: 1-844-773-1427 (toll free), or find more 24/7 resources

Possible signs of student distress

  • Significant changes in behaviour and performance (e.g. uncharacteristically poor academic performance, temperament changes, agitation, confusion, outbursts, changes in physical appearance)
  • Isolation or social withdrawal (e.g., previously involved student stops attending classes)
  • Signs of excessive substance use
  • Creation or distribution of concerning communications (e.g., social media, emails or assignments containing harassing or threatening language)
  • Expressed feelings of hopelessness or despair or behaviours that indicate a likelihood of harm to self or others (e.g. suicidal thoughts, verbal, written or creative work that includes plans to harm self and/or others)
  • Preoccupation with or expressions of violence or those who have engaged in violent acts or with weapons

When dealing with a student potentially in distress, always take the time to carefully observe, reflect and identify whether you think there is reason for concern, and respond with calm.

The most important information we can convey to a student is that we care and they matter.

Steps to take

  1. Speak with the student directly and in a comfortable, safe setting. Maintain clear professional boundaries.
  2. Be specific about the behaviour you have observed, and don’t be afraid to express concern. Use objective, nonjudgmental language.
  3. Stay calm and listen carefully. Acknowledge how the student is feeling and let them know you want to help. Take their concerns seriously.
  4. Make a referral—let them know about supports on and off campus and that seeking help is a sign of strength and courage.
  5. If something still doesn’t “feel right” consult with your supervisor/chair/dean, Student Wellness, Campus Security or campus resources. It’s better to ask than not.
  6. Know your limits and take care of yourself. Don’t feel it’s your responsibility to solve the student’s problem on your own. Ask for help.

Training for faculty & staff

The UVic Student Mental Health Literacy Program (SMHLP) offers training for faculty, sessional instructors, teaching assistants and staff. The program provides dedicated training on key areas in support of student mental health. You’ll learn how to:

  • recognize early warning signs for students experiencing difficulties
  • recognize when a student may be in distress
  • support and refer students who are at-risk or in distress
  • refer students in distress or in crisis to campus resources

Mental health literacy training is provided in three levels:

  • Level one: Basic training in mental health awareness and response. We’ll ensure faculty and staff have the information they need to identify, respond to and refer a student to appropriate resources.
  • Level two: Detailed information, tools, scenarios and case studies. This level is geared to groups of faculty and staff who more frequently respond to students in distress.
  • Level three: Advanced training in mental health concerns. This level is for selected groups of faculty and staff who work in areas that regularly respond to students in distress. Training includes supporting students in crisis, emergency protocols and suicide intervention.

See upcoming dates and register through Human Resources’ learning calendar.

If you are interested in scheduling a level one, two or three training session for your unit, please contact us.

Contact Dawn Schell you have questions about the SMHLP.

Support for instructors

If a student approaches you looking for help, you can refer them to the Student Wellness Centre at 250-721-8563 or one of the following support resources:

Learn about UVic's Student Mental Health Strategy.