Provide advice and suggestions

Suggest to the student that there may be a number of options for getting help. Here again, it is helpful to ask permission before giving advice:

“Other students have found a couple of different things to be useful (helpful) in situations like this. Would you be willing to talk about these strategies (resources)?”

When talking about other services, try to provide a menu of options so that the student has choices, including discussions with a health care provider/counselor or working to make changes on one’s own. After providing a range of suggestions, ask for the student’s opinion of these options:

“What do you think? Which of these do you believe might be most helpful to you?”

Emphasize personal control:

“Whatever you decide, it is ultimately up to you.”

Emphasize that the student does not need to deal with these issues alone:

“There’s no shame in seeking help or using the resources available to you. This is a good way to approach the problem.”

Close the discussion positively and leave room for further conversation. Thank the student for speaking honestly with you:

“I am glad we had a chance to chat.”

Summarize a plan for change:

“It sounds like you recognize that…” “Specifically you plan to…”

Keep the door open:

“I’d really like to hear how things are going with you. Would you feel comfortable checking back?”

As an educator, you don’t need to abandon your standards for behaviour and performance in order to support students who are experiencing difficulties or who are in distress. All students, whether in distress or not, deserve to be approached with a help, non-judgemental attitude.