Many university staff come into contact with students in distress and feel the need, or are requested, to offer support. It is important that you do so within the boundaries of what you feel comfortable doing. While College staff have a responsibility for supporting students, they are not expected to provide specialist pastoral care and should provide appropriate support within the remit of their role.
A student may disclose something worrying, or you may observe behaviours or actions that give cause for concern. These may happen suddenly, or over a period of time. If possible, please be transparent with the student about your concerns, it is good to ask them how they are, and whether they require any support. Early referral and raising of concerns is encouraged to increase the opportunities for providing support and tackling problems at a stage when they are likely to be more manageable. Prompt action can also help to minimise the impact on other staff members and students.
When supporting students experiencing difficulty, you can assist them in the following ways:
Notice - recognise the signs that give you concern
Respond - by acting on your concerns, and/or signposting to Student Support and self help resources on Moodle
Escalate - Report your wellbeing or welfare concerns through this Report and Support platform. The information that you submit is received by senior members of Student Support, read within one working day and appropriate action is taken within 48 hours, typically a lot sooner.
Encourage the student to access their own support network e.g friends, family, GP.
Student Support can only work effectively with students if they are willing and open to seeking help and support. However, there will be circumstances when it will be necessary for the Student Support team to intervene, for example where there is clear and identified risk to the student, or others. Where a member of staff is concerned about the wellbeing of a student and need to share information about the student with Student Support even if it is against the wishes of the student. It is not breaking confidentiality to share concerns for a student, especially if there are clear concerns for their safety and others.
Please also see our article describing the support available for staff.