Supporting and referring distressed students

Sometimes distressed students will turn to staff for help or support. If you feel you need, or are requested, to give a student extra assistance it is important to help within the boundaries of your role and what you feel competent to do.

Sometimes you will be made aware of worrying behaviour by other students, for example, or you may notice a student appears physically unwell, dishevelled, agitated or acting out of character. In this case, follow up with the student if you feel confident to do so – it is important to be honest with the student about the concerns and be prepared to refer to other sources of support. 

What you can do

  • ask open questions
  • don’t be afraid of tears
  • make appropriate referrals
  • listen
  • give the student time to talk
  • be sympathetic and not dismissive

If you offer support yourself, make sure you have sufficient time within the context of your other commitments to do this and it does not conflict with other aspects of your role. 

What you can’t do

  • solve all of a student’s problems
  • take responsibility for their emotional state or actions
  • force the student to get help if they don’t want it
  • act as the student’s counsellor
  • make physical contact as this can be misconstrued

Referring a student

If you remain concerned, or you don't have the capacity to follow up with the student yourself, please pass on the concerns to your Senior Tutor as well as to the Student Services Hub who can follow up as necessary.

It is important to refer the student to somewhere that is acceptable to them. If in doubt, please contact the Student Service Hub or Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service at wellbeing@essex.ac.uk

We also have information, advice and guidance, including counselling available for students to access. 

Reporting a concern about a student

If you are concerned about the welfare of a student you can also report your concerns.

Student Services Hub
Need help?

If you need any further help and advice, please contact or visit the Student Services Hub who will be happy to assist you.