Old North at UCO

Guidelines for Interacting with Students in Distress

Students who are in distress present a unique challenge to faculty and staff. Although there is a great deal that students may gain by talking with or accepting advice from someone in a position to help, it can be difficult to communicate in a way that these students can find helpful. 

If you know a student who is behaving in a way that might indicate distress, please consider calling the Student Counseling Center to

consult with a clinician. You make also consider making a referral to the student counseling center.

If you choose to express your concerns directly with a student, please consider the following guidelines:

Talk to the student privately to help minimize embarrassment and defensiveness.

Listen carefully to the student and respond to both the student's words and the student's emotions.

Discuss your observations and perceptions of the situation honestly yet tactfully with the student.

Express your concern in a non-judgemental way. Respect the student's value system, even if you don't agree with it.

Help the student identify options for action and explore the possible consequences.

Be frank with the student about the limits of your ability to help him or her.

If the student resists help and you are concerned, consult with the Student Counseling Center.

If the student appears to be in imminent danger of hurting self or others, consult the UCO Student Counseling Center or the Department of Public Safety immediately. NEVER promise to keep threats to self or others secret.

Click on a link below for more information on how to help students in distress:

Common Warning Signs of Student Distress 

Guidelines for Interacting with Students in Distress

Making a Referral to the Student Counseling Center


Contact Us

  • Office of Student Counseling Service Center
  • 100 N. University Drive Box 174
  • Edmond, OK 73034
  • Phone: 405.974.2215
  • Fax: 405.974.3829