Supporting Students

Recognize, Respond, Refer, Reflect

Step 1: Recognizing Signs of Distress

Stress and distress are common feelings for many students. Each student is going to have their own unique way of dealing with stressful experiences and their emotions. There are many different reasons why a student may approach you for support, or appear in need of support. Being able to recognize a student in distress is the first step.

Signs of stress or distress may include physical, emotional or behavioural, academic concerns and/or obvious expressions of safety concerns.

Safety Concerns

Examples include statements about suicide or death, suspicions or paranoia, threats towards/from others.

Emotions and Behaviours

Examples include evident anxiety; unusually withdrawn or animated; feelings of helplessness; crying; appear emotionless or calm; memory loss; unable to concentrate; seem hypervigilant or panic.

Physical Distress

Examples include exhaustion; falling asleep in class; visible change in appearance; or visible injuries.

Academic Concerns

Examples include concerning content on assignments; extreme perfectionism; extreme disorganization; repeated absences; missed assignments or exams.

  Requires Immediate Support Requires Further Assessment
Student If a student has a plan or thoughts of: If the student has thoughts of:
  • suicide
  • life-threatening behaviours
  • causing damage or harm to self, others, or the institution
  • worthlessness, hopelessness, people “better off” without them, people being “against them”

Any indication of:

  • self-injury, disordered eating, sexual violence, disorganized speech, lack of flow in conversation, delusions

If you are concerned about the student’s feelings of:

  • frustration, anxiety, stress
What To Do

Seek immedate assistance and:

  1. Stay with the student, unless you are worried about your safety
  2. Get help:
    • Nipissing University Campus Security at x5555 or

24-hours at 705-498-7244

  • Call 911
  • Call Counselling Services x4507 (office hours only)

Follow the Recognize, Respond, Refer, Reflect guidelines in this folder, and:

  1. Offer to call Student Development & Services to connect with a professional x4507, room B210
  2. Offer the student resources for support found on the inside of the folder
  3. If you are worried about the safety of the student or yourself, contact Nipissing University Campus Security at x5555 or 24-hours at 705-498-7244, or call 911

Step 2: Respond

A supportive response and approach can make all the difference, but that does not mean that it will come easy. This also does not mean that you need to be an expert. It is important to remember that it is okay to not have all the answers. Being aware of these simple steps can help you to provide a supportive response.

Starting the Conversation

  • Meet in safe & private location
  • Be open to listening
  • Express your concern for the student
  • Ensure the student is open to talking further

Provide a Supportive Referral

  • Share that support is available
  • Create an individual plan of next steps for student by providing support(s) listed in this folder, whom referral(s) being made to/ support person for student
  • Summarize the plan including when you will follow up with the student

Listen and Respect Confidentiality

  • Take a non-judgmental approach
  • Validate feelings of stress
  • Communicate any limits to confidentiality
  • Limits may include concerns about student’s safety and/or professional responsibilities

Follow Up Plan

  • Follow up based on your plan with the student

Step 3: Refer

Nipissing University Resources (705) 474-3450

Academic Advising

Academic Planning/Course Selection
x4358 A207

Campus Health Centre

Medical Concerns
705-474-7600 x5261 B205

Campus Security

Safety or Emergency Support x5555 B203
24-Hours 705-498-7244

International Initiatives

International/Exchange Student Programs
x4321 B210

NipissingSafe App

Interactive, Mobile Safety App

Nipissing University Student Union

Food Security/Health Plan
x4801 F204/F205

Office of Indigenous Initiatives

Cultural Support
x4899 F215

Residence Life

Student Housing

Sexual Violence Prevention & Education

Referral & Support
x4075 B210

Student Accessibility Services

Academic Accommodations for Disabilities
x4362 B210

Student Counselling

Emotional or Mental Health Needs
x4507 B210

Student Financial Services

Financial Support
x4419 G215

Student Intervention Services

Complex Concerns or Multiple Support Needs
x4605 B210

Student Learning & Transitions

Academic & Transition Support
x4459 B210

Student Success

Support for Student Success


Amelia Rising (Sexual Violence Report Centre)

24-Hour Crisis Line

Assaulted Women’s Helpline

24-Hour Helpline 1-866-863-0511

Crisis Intervention Program

North Bay Regional Hospital
24-Hour Support


24-Hour Student Helpline

Help for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse

24-Hour Helpline


24-Hour Indigenous Women’s Helpline

Youth Line

LBGTT2Sq+ Peer Support Limited Hours

Student Retention Alert

What Is It?

Student Retention Alert is a referral-based early alert program that provides timely support to students who may be facing challenges.

How Do I Use It?

  1. Log into WebAdvisor
  2. Select “Student Retention Alert” from the Faculty/Employee main menu
  3. Select Submit Student Concern
  4. Type the first and last name of the student or their Nipissing University student identification number (you may also choose to submit anonymously if this information is unknown)

Contact Us or

Step 4: Reflect

What Type of Support Did I Provide?

Did the student require immediate assistance, a referral or follow-up? Was there a safety concern?

Did I Consider My Own Limits?

It is okay to not know the answer to a question and to set personal boundaries. Encourage students to call on other resources provided in this folder when possible.

How Am I Feeling?

It is common to feel upset or anxious after dealing with a student’s distress. Get help for yourself.

If you need to debrief, have a question or want to report a concern wtih a professional, please contact Student Intervention Specialist at x4605. Further support is available through your Employee Assistance Program (EAP), contact Human Resources for details.