Helping Others

Mental Help Folder

This quick guide is designed to assist faculty and others to support students in distress.

What to do for a person in distress

The most important information we can convey to another human being is that we care and that they matter. A safe campus is a caring campus!

Approach
  • It’s OK to ask during a one-on-one conversation and express concern
  • Be specific about the behaviour that concerns you

Sample script:

  I've noticed you've been absent from class lately and I'm concerned about you.

Listen
  • Listen openly and non-judgmentally

Sample script:

 Can you tell me more? Is there anything I can do to help you?

Support
  • Acknowledge the person’s thoughts and feelings in a compassionate way
  • Offer hope and reassure the student you are concerned and want to help

Sample script:

 It sounds like you are feeling out of place. You're not alone and we have resources to help.

Refer
  • Provide person with resources (see I Need Help or last two pages of the Mental Help folder)
  • Offer to make the call with the person
  • If comfortable, walk with the person to a resource

Sample script:

 Seeking help can feel scary but it's a sign of strength. If you'd like, I can call and connect you to a resource while you are here with me.

  • Point out that help is available and that seeking help is a sign of strength and courage, not weakness. Acknowledge that seeking help can be scary.
  • See I Need Help for resources to share with the person or contact Student Counselling (if a student) or a mental health nurse (if a student or employee) for recommendations on how to approach the situation. If the person is reluctant, you can help by:
    • Offering to contact the resource on their behalf while the person is with you.
    • Offering to sit with the person while they make the initial contact themselves.
    • Accompanying the person to an on-campus resource if appropriate and you feel comfortable.
  • Tell the person about mru.ca/wellnessresources where they can find information about on- and off-campus resources in the I Need Help section.
  • Offer to follow up with the person, but don’t insist on knowing what the person has done.

Respect the person’s decision. Accepting or refusing assistance must be left up to the individual, except in emergency situations where the life of the person (or others) is in danger.

  • Know the person’s response to you is not personal.
  • Don’t force the issue or trick the individual into going.
  • Try to leave the door open for later consideration.
  • If you need personal support, reach out to colleagues or a counsellor

Sample script:

 I respect your decision. I hope you will keep these options in mind. My door is always open.


If in doubt, please contact Student Counselling for support on what to say, how to say it, or where to refer someone who is in need.