Knowing What to Say If You’re Concerned for Your Student
If you need ideas on things you can say to check in with your student and offer support, we are available to consult with you and offer advice. The Counseling Center does not typically contact students for you, but we do want to help you in reaching out to your students and expressing your concern. If you are concerned about your student’s safety, you might encourage them to utilize our emergency services or contact us on your own so that we can help you establish a planned way to offer your student support.
At the Counseling Center, we talk a lot about communication - and the importance of doing so - in order to attend to the mental wellness of your student. Often times, you might notice that your student is exhibiting signs of distress but you are not sure of what to say; the Counseling Center can help you navigate your way around in these unfamiliar waters.
When communicating, it is important to be specific. Identify what behaviors have concerned you. Ask your student if he or she is experiencing distress of any kind. Listen to the answer. You might then probe by saying things like "tell me more" or "give me examples".
If you are concerned that your student might be suicidal, ask. You can say something like, "Have you been thinking of killing yourself" or "Have you thought about ending your life". If your student responds positively, continue to ask questions to determine if they have a plan ("Have you thought about how you would end your life?"), as well as if they have means to do so ("Do you have access to a gun?”). If you are concerned about your student's safety in this way, let us know right away so that we can work with you to help keep your student safe.
During the day (M - F 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.), we can be reached at (828) 262-3180. If you need help after hours, call the Center at (828) 262-3180 and select the option to speak with the counselor on call. While it may be uncomfortable to engage in this type of emotional dialogue, such communication can be invaluable in helping your student experience positive mental health. It is an important way that you can actively assist them in finding the appropriate supports offered here on our campus. Please contact us if you need more advice on how to communicate with your student.
The Counseling Center offers after-hours emergency coverage for urgent mental health concerns such as suicidal thoughts, sexual assault, and other trauma. Call the Counseling Center at 828-262-3180 and select the option to speak with the counselor on-call.
During operating hours, students in crisis can walk in any time.