How to Help Students

Recognize the problem

  • Tardiness or excessive absences
  • Repetitive excuses
  • Recurrence of addressed concerns
  • Classroom disruption
  • Disclosure of sexual assault or harassment
  • Disclosure of relationship violence
  • Sudden or extreme changes in behavior
  • Threatening behavior
  • Disclosure of suicidal thought

What to do

  • If possible, gather information before you intervene. Knowing where to refer a depressed or anxious student ahead of time might save time and increase the student’s confidence in you.
  • Ensure privacy when you talk and choose a time when you are not preoccupied or rushed. If you are concerned about your safety or about anyone’s behavior being misinterpreted, ask your supervisor or a trusted colleague to join you and explain why to the student.
  • Be honest and direct; it’s often best to talk in very concrete terms about what’s happening.
  • Communicate hope by reminding the student that there are always options, and things tend to look different with time.
  • Respect the student’s value system and culture.
  • Follow up in a reasonable length of time.
  • Recognize that the student may not immediately welcome or act upon your interventions, but you may plant a seed that blossoms later - it's never wrong to communicate kindness and concern.
  • Consult with other professionals about your concerns by contacting any of the offices listed below. The Case Manager in Counseling Services is a great resource. You may also contact the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Life. We are here to assist you.
  • If you do not feel comfortable addressing the student's concerns, refer the student to Counseling Services. Emergency accommodations are available. 

Helpful contact information:
UMD Counseling Services - 218.726.7913
Office of Student Life - 218.726.8502

"What to do" was created by Boynton Health Services, the Office of Student Affairs, and the Provost's Committee on Student Mental Health on the UMN Twin Cities campus.


If a student exhibits behaviors that you feel indicate IMMEDIATE DANGER TO SELF OR SOMEONE ELSE, CALL 9-911 from a campus phone or 911 from a cell phone or other off-campus phone.

For URGENT but NON-CRISIS situations, walk with the student to Counseling Services, 615 Niagara Court.