Guidelines on How to Observe, Engage and Refer Students in Distress

Use this document as a guide to help you know what to look for, say, and do.

Given that mental health and well-­‐being of students is a shared responsibility of all campus community members, it is important that you become aware of how to identify warning signs, how to assists students who are in distress, and how to effectively refer them to various University of Toronto services and resources. There are people and services on campus to assist you in dealing with distressed students. Common reasons for consulting include determining the seriousness of a situation and how quickly it needs to be addressed.

Observe: What to Look For

Observing and recognizing when a student is in distress may be relatively straightforward, when the signs are obvious. But when the signs are more subtle, it’s more difficult, and you may feel reluctant to intervene. In such cases, you can look for a number of indicators in a student’s thoughts, feelings, actions and academics

Observe: How to Observe and Recognize that a Student is in Distress

Engage: What to Say

Regardless of our individual roles on campus, any one of us may have the opportunity to help prevent a student from finding themselves in crisis. As a TA, you may be in a unique position to help a student in distress.

Engage: How to Engage a Student in Distress

Refer: What to Do

There may be any number of circumstances in which it would be appropriate for you to refer a student for help. In such cases, help the student to explore sources of possible support.

Refer: How to refer a student in Distress


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