How do I signpost a student to Wellbeing Support Services?
Experience tells us that students are more likely to engage with wellbeing support if recommended to do so by their academic department. For most students, it will be sufficient to signpost them to Wellbeing Support Services (WSS), and recommend they engage with us for support. Students do this via our Wellbeing portal, which is an enquiry and communication platform (this link will only work if you are a student, and will allow you to submit an enquiry and see options for support.). These are also outlined on our website. We offer brief consultations Monday – Friday from 10am-3pm. Students have the opportunity to join a virtual queue and speak to a wellbeing professional for a same-day response (the average wait time is under 20 minutes).
There is much support students can engage with without needing to speak to a wellbeing professional one to one. Many of our resources are online. We have a huge number of self-help resources, videos, wellbeing tips and we offer wellbeing Masterclasses (half an hour of practical wellbeing tips) and more in-depth interactive skills sessions (on key issues such as sleep, managing anxiety, procrastination etc). There’s also TogetherAll for 24/7 mental health support.
If your concerns are such that you don’t feel comfortable leaving the student to make contact with WSS themselves, you can contact WSS for advice on 024 76575570 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . You do not need to divulge the personal details of the student if you are concerned about doing so, and colleagues in WSS will advise you if they feel in their professional opinion, there are grounds to do so.
WSS supports students both virtually and in person, so not being local, or in the UK, does not exclude a student from accessing our support, although it may impact the advice/ support we are able to offer.
Where are Wellbeing Support Services?
Our Campus Security team works 24/7/365 and is the contact point for the University’s emergency response.
Any situation where you feel you do not wish to wait until the next working day, you are advised to call Campus Security. They will advise about an appropriate response, and they have access to key out of hours contacts at the University, if this is necessary. They may also reassure you that it can wait, and signpost you to the relevant team.
Campus Security are the University’s first-responders and are trained both in physical and mental health first aid. They have vast experience of supporting people in difficulty, and mobilising appropriate support.
If you are concerned about immediate risk to life, and the student lives on campus, you can call Campus Security on 024 7652 2222. They can arrange a safe and well check for the student and/or arrange emergency services if necessary. If the student lives off-campus, Campus Security are always available for advice, but do contact emergency services to attend. Other emergency contact information is available. For less urgent intervention, contact Wellbeing Support Services for guidance. Telephone Wellbeing Support Services on 024 7657 5570 (extension 75570).
What do I do if I have a distressed student with me?
Distress is a normal part of life and doesn’t necessarily need any professional input. Giving a little time and space to listen to them, and signposting them to support, will often be all that is required. However, if you are concerned for their safety, you can seek advice/ support, either from Campus Security, in an emergency, or from WSS (email@example.com or tel: 024 76575570). We have colleagues who provide a ‘duty’ service by advising colleagues on actions & managing any incidents that have to be dealt with on that day.
I'm a personal tutor, where can I get guidance?
In addition to these pages, we also recommend you check out the Dean of Students information. See below for further guidance.
How do I know when I should signpost a student to Wellbeing Support Services?
Wellbeing Support Services can be consulted by any member of staff to talk through any practical/emotional/psychological concerns you may have about a student or to discuss potential referrals to our services or to other support resources. Staff can offer guidance on how to proceed and advise on whether a referral to Wellbeing Support Services is appropriate. It is possible to discuss someone anonymously (without revealing their identity) if that seems more appropriate. Telephone Wellbeing Support Services on 024 7657 5570 (extension 75570).
A guide for when to refer is if:
- you feel out of your depth with the level of distress being presented to you
- a student is taking up (what feels like) too much of your time with personal issues
- you begin to act as something other than your role suggests
What's the guidance around confidentiality?
Personal information should always be treated respectfully and shared on a need-to-know basis. However, you should never promise a student complete confidentiality. If you have wellbeing concerns about a student, we advise you to speak to Wellbeing Support Services for guidance (this can be done without sharing names if that is helpful).
What do I do if a student talks to me about their personal issues?
It is common that students talk to staff about their personal issues. It may be helpful to use basic 'counselling skills' (different from professional counselling/psychotherapeutic intervention) - listen attentively, don't make judgements, don't try to problem solve/offer advice or offer possible solutions - what you CAN do is explore options and offer factual information and signpost to services such as Wellbeing Support Services.
What if a student keeps on coming to me to talk about their personal issues - then what do I do?
It is most important to be clear about the boundaries of your role and convey that clearly to the student. Know the extent and limits of your responsibilities and clearly state what you can and cannot offer in terms of time and personal support. Be aware of other resources that may be available to students and give them the relevant information. It may be useful to clarify this with the Senior Tutor (or equivalent) in your department.
What if I refer a student but they do not want to seek wellbeing support?
Although it may feel difficult, but, if a student does not wish to seek support, they can't be forced to. This does not necessarily mean that you have to continue to hold and contain them. As adults, students can only be encouraged to maintain their wellbeing and supported so to do. Your task is to inform them of their options and to encourage them to seek the most appropriate help for themselves.
Referring to Wellbeing Support Services can be a delicate task. It is important to convey that you are not rejecting them after they have perhaps confided in you but rather you are keen to ensure they have the best possible support from an appropriately trained and qualified professional. If Wellbeing Support Services is presented as a positive option it may be easier to accept and pursue the referral.
What if I refer a student to seek support but they don't follow up on the referral?
If you have continuing significant concerns about a student who is not engaging with Wellbeing Support Services, or you feel uncertain about whether there is more you should do, we suggest you talk to Wellbeing Support Services. You can have a conversation around this yourself with Wellbeing as a Personal Tutor, or refer the matter to your Department Senior Tutor who can do so (this can be without using the student’s name if necessary). Wellbeing will advise you as to next steps – there are generally several options (such as you and student contacting Wellbeing whilst you are together/ Wellbeing reaching out to the student etc) and discussion can help work out which might work best.
Shouldn't we be encouraging students to resolve their own problems?
Wellbeing Support Services work with many high-achievers and hard workers who are all of high university calibre. However, everyone has mental/psychological health, just like everyone has physical health and we all need to look after ourselves well to get the best out of our lives. Engaging with emotional self-care, could be said to parallel going to the gym (or similar) - it helps us keep emotionally healthy, robust and flexible. And there are times when, no matter how fit we are (mentally and emotionally), life is particularly challenging and we need to understand how best to manage the situation with professional support and guidance.
Seeking support is a responsible option, efficiently and effectively providing expert, specialist intervention when required, which is a significantly more sensible option than not seeking appropriate help and struggling on feeling under-par and under-performing. The notion that intervention such as therapy encourages enfeeblement is untrue. Our task is to deliver a range of psychological interventions to help students navigate the challenges and opportunities of student life.
Your own wellbeing
How can I get support for myself as a member of staff?
Speak to colleagues; seek guidance on referrals from Wellbeing Support professionals - contact by phone 024 7657 5570.
Seek personal support via the Health Assured Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and the Staff Wellbeing Hub You may also like to use TogetherAll.
For guidance on supporting students, check out this helpful e-learning package, introduced by the Actor and Presenter, Alexander Armstrong: http://learning.cwmt.org.uk.
I enjoy being involved with students, why should I refer to Wellbeing Support Services?
To have a natural flair for empathy and understanding is a valuable quality. However, professional support requires more than a keen interest. Psychological therapy is a dynamic, often complex, interactive process which requires the therapist to undergo a disciplined monitoring of clients' and therapists' responses and non-verbal communication gained through extensive theoretical training.
Employing general counselling skills and then referring on when appropriate, is considerably more time-effective for staff, allowing them to concentrate on their own area of expertise. Assuming responsibility beyond your role may bring with it additional/personal accountability.
External requests for information on wellbeing
How do we respond to requests from family/ next of kin who are seriously concerned about the wellbeing of a student?
If you are contacted by a family member/ friend of a student who has serious concerns about the student’s wellbeing, it is important that we take all concerns on board and do whatever is appropriate to establish the student is safe and well, but you should not divulge any information without first seeking advice. If the family member wishes to pass on their concerns, they can do so. It may be appropriate to escalate these concerns to Wellbeing Support Services, including also any departmental concerns you may have about the student. Wellbeing professionals will then consider this information, along with any information that is already held about the wellbeing of this student, and respond appropriately.
How do we respond to requests from external authorities e.g. the Police, for next of kin or other details, where there are serious concerns about the wellbeing of a student?
In rare emergency (‘vital to life’) situations, it may be appropriate to divulge details to authorities, but this would generally be a decision taken by Wellbeing Support Services, in liaison with Campus Security or other relevant staff members. In an emergency, you are advised to call Campus Security on 024 76522222 for advice.
Information on specific issues
How do I support a student with a disability?
See information for staff about disability issues here.
What if a student has concerns about a disability?
Encourage students to submit a query through the Wellbeing Portal.
What if a student is talking about wanting to end their life?
Sometimes a student may present to you in significant distress, or may be talking about, for example, feeling so overwhelmed that they are talking about wanting to 'end it all'. It is very important to remain calm to contain the distress in these situations. It may be helpful to check out the intention of this sort of statement: often people may use this expression when distressed, but they have no intention to act on this, and, when asked, are able to make this clear. If they are experiencing these sort of thoughts, do refer them to Wellbeing Support Services.
If, however, in the more rare situations, you have concerns that there is serious and imminent threat to personal safety, then you may need to take action. See the options of emergency contacts both within the university and external resources. It is important to note that you are not bound by confidentiality in these situations. NB Campus Security staff are all trained first responders including mental health. Call ext 22222 (024 7652 2222). After the event, it is important to share the information with relevant senior colleagues.
What if a student tells me about sexual violence?
It’s important to listen and empathise. Do not ask questions or ask for details. Encourage and reassure students that they can access, or be referred into one of our specialist services where they will receive emotional support and advice. Please also reassure students that they can disclose via Report + Support.
What do I do if we are concerned a student may be missing or doesn’t respond to any communications from the department and isn’t attending?
WSS has developed guidelines for departments around missing students.
What if I hear that a student has/ might have died, and the University may not be aware?
Sadly, we do occasionally experience death within our University community and this can have a profound impact on all involved. Wellbeing Support Services are responsible for co-ordinating the support response to student deaths. They will liaise with the family & external services, ensure all the necessary internal contacts are kept appropriately updated, and provide support to both students and staff in the aftermath. If you find out that a student may have died and you aren't sure if the University is aware, please contact Wellbeing Support Services on 024 76575570 as soon as possible. Alternatively, in an emergency, or out of hours, you can call the Security gatehouse on 024 76522083 (24/7).
Additional information for Heads of Departments and Departmental Administrators about dealing with student deaths can be found here.