Bing tracking

Helping Emotionally Distressed Students

See “Student Support Guide” button for resources for students by topic of concern (academic support, personal concerns, health care, and basic living needs).


Supporting Students in Crisis — Brochure created by the Dean of Students    Please see this document for steps to take when you are concerned about a student on the Augsburg campus.


Concerned about a student?

The Center for Wellness & Counseling would be happy to consult with you if you have concerns about a student.  Call or email CWC’s Director, Ellie Olson at 612-330-1169,  After-hours, contact the Department of Public Safety (612-330-1717) if you have urgent safety concerns about a student.

You or the student of concern may also consult with a licensed mental health clinician through CWC’s Urgent Phone Counseling line 844-287-6963 24/7/365 (offered by CWC in partnership with BetterMynd).


Talking with a student about your concerns

•Talk in private.

•Be calm and matter of fact (this may help the student to manage their emotions).

•Focus on specific behaviors, not labels or diagnoses.

•Listen carefully and reflect back to the student what you are hearing.

•Convey your support and understanding of the pressure the student is experiencing.

•Help the student to identify options for addressing the problem.

•Set limits — don’t offer help beyond your comfort zone.

•Consult with CWC if you are concerned about how to best help the student.

Referring a student to counseling

•Ask the student what ideas they have for support — they may already be thinking about getting counseling.

•Let the student know that you think it would be helpful for them to talk to someone about their concerns.  If you think CWC would be a good resource, tell them that.

•Reassure the student that CWC is used by many students who face normal concerns of dealing with college stress.

•Let them know that their discussions with a counselor at CWC are completely confidential, and that the counselor will not share any information without their (written) permission.  (Know that there are exceptions to confidentiality in the case of imminent harm to self or others, but we will educate the student on this when they come to see us).

•Encourage the student to call CWC at 612-330-1707 (or email at to set up an appointment, or walk over with them to show them where we are located and help them schedule.  Do not share any personal information with the front desk person, just introduce the student and tell the scheduler that the student would like an appointment.  Let the student take it from there.

•Let them know that it is their choice whether or not to go to counseling.

•Follow up at a later date to check in on how they are doing, and whether they followed up on your referral to CWC.

What if the student is making references to suicide?

•Ask a direct question, “Have you been thinking about suicide?”  It is a myth that asking people will encourage them to consider suicide as an option.  Suicidal thoughts are quite common when someone is depressed.

•If it appears that the student has an actual suicide plan or does not feel safe, get help immediately by contacting CWC (612-330-1707), as well as the Dean of Students, Mike Grewe (612-330-1499).  CWC has after-hours phone counseling available, by calling 612-330-1707 and choosing Option 1 (this will connect you to ProtoCall, a nationwide service for universities that Augsburg has contracted with, staffed with trained mental health therapists who can talk to a student and assess for safety).

•If you feel like the student or another person is in immediate danger, or if the student’s behaviors are out of control, do not hesitate to contact the Department of Public Safety (612-330-1717).

•Trust your instincts.  If you feel this is serious, consult and get help.

Online Resources

Creating a Culture of Caring:  Faculty Resource Guide.  Practical Approaches for University Faculty to Support Student Wellbeing and Mental Health.  From Active Minds.

4 Ways Faculty Can Be Allies for College Student Mental Health

Assisting the Emotionally Distressed Student discusses guidelines for intervention with students in many mental health and emotionally distressed situations.

What to Say After a Student Dies    Catherine Shea Sanger, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Teaching in Times of Crisis   Vanderbilt University