LISTEN to the student in private when both of you have the time. Give the student your patient, undivided attention and let them talk with minimal interruption. Often just a few minutes of effective listening is enough to help a student feel cared about and more confident about what to do. If the student appears very agitated or if there is a safety concern, it is best to ask a colleague to be present when you meet with the student.
ACKNOWLEDGE the student's thoughts and feelings in a sensitive, compassionate way. Let the student know you understand what they are trying to communicate by reflecting back the essence of what they've said, for example: "it sounds like you're not used to such a big campus and you're feeling left out of things."
EXPRESS CONCERN without making generalizations or assumptions about the student. Be specific about the behaviour which gives you cause for concern. For example, "I've noticed you've been absent from class lately and I'm concerned," rather than "Where have you been lately?"
OFFER HOPE by reassuring the student that things can get better. Help them realize they have options and resources, and that things will not always seem hopeless.
HAVE A CULTURALLY OPEN WORLD VIEW Remember, there are differences in students' communication styles, experiences with living independently, help-seeking styles, and comfort with referral to counselling. Students sometimes find it difficult to admit to problems and may present them in an indirect way. It is wise to respond to stated concerns while listening actively for others, which may be more difficult for the student to express.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF Being a support person to a student in pain can be a very rewarding experience. There can also be a significant "cost to caring". Bearing witness to a person in pain can be a heavy responsibility that may cause you to feel some distress or sadness.