Helping distressed students

A page within Counseling & Testing

Does the student need IMMEDIATE assistance?


The student’s conduct is clearly reckless, disorderly, dangerous or threatening and is suggestive of immediate harm to self or others in the community.

Call 911

Not sure

Indicators of distress are observed but severity is unclear. The interaction has left you feeling uneasy or concerned.

Contact Student Life or Counseling for a consultation.


There is no concern for the student’s or others’ immediate safety, but student is having significant academic and/or personal issues.

Refer to Student Life or an appropriate campus resource.

Faculty & staff referral tips

Student Life Office

Advocacy & Empowerment: specialists who meet with distressed students 1:1 to help develop options and resources to support their continued success at UWL.

CARE Team: Interdisciplinary group to identify students at risk. The team works quickly and collaboratively to assess a distressed student’s needs, direct them to campus and community resources, and consult with campus offices impacted by the concern.

Counseling & Testing Center

Urgent Care: Immediate-term strategies focusing on assessing student's safety and their needs over the next few hours and/or days. Often includes recommendations for further treatment at CTC or elsewhere.

Consultation: CTC counselors can discuss general recommendations if you are concerned about a student or want more information about resources.

  • Knowledge is power! Familiarize yourself with campus resources and the referral processes.
  • Consider the setting. If safe to do so, meet privately and allow for sufficient time to talk.
  • Listen and offer support. Validate and normalize their feelings and experiences.
  • Keep it simple and direct.
  • Express your concerns directly to the student, focusing on behaviors in non-disparaging terms.
  • Instill hope that help is available and effective.
  • Don’t avoid the situation, promise confidentiality, or offer more help than you are able to provide.
  • Do ask directly if the student is thinking about suicide or hurting someone else.
  • Recommend services and provide referral information. Offer to assist the student in contacting resources, but allow the autonomy of making their own appointments.
  • In crisis situations, you can offer to walk the student to the appropriate office or call to consult while with the student.
  • Check in with the student after the situation and ask how the student is doing. Offer additional referrals or assistance as appropriate.


Access an online simulation that lets you practice conversations with a virtual student, so you’ll know what to say in real life if you are concerned about someone's well-being and want to recommend resources to them. UWL has made this program available to faculty, staff, and students to help create a safer and more supportive campus. Find it at

Let’s Talk

An informal consultation option with a CTC Counselor. Students meet with a counselor on a first-come, first-served basis, and no topics are off limits. This isn’t a crisis service, or a substitute for individual counseling, but is often a good place to start. Information about Let’s Talk location and time is on our website.


The YOU platform is the student's digital front door to campus resources and actionable content. YOU helps students navigate life and campus on their terms with independent goal setting, skill building, assessments, and evidence-based content across 30+ well-being topics. Access your YOU platform at

Faculty/Staff Mental Health Concerns

Are you a faculty or staff member and are concerned about your own mental health or concerned for a coworker? While the Counseling & Testing Center cannot provide treatment to faculty/staff there are other resources available to you.

  • UWL Employees have access to free short-term counseling through the Employee Assistance Program. 
  • Our Consultations & Referrals page can offer help navigating insurance and finding a provider in the community. 
  • Insight Timer is an app for everyday wellbeing for sleep, anxiety, and stress. UWL faculty, staff, and students get free premium access. Sign up with your UWL email. 

Teaching During a Tragedy

It can be challenging to know how to lead a class following a tragedy. The Teaching After a Tragedy Handout provides suggestions for faculty.

Additional Resources