What You Should Do

  1. Talk to the student in private and express your concern. This could be after class or during office hours. Try to give the student your undivided attention.
  2. Be honest and direct. In a non-judgmental manner share what you have observed and why you are concerned.
  3. Listen carefully and with sensitivity. Be open-minded. After you have expressed your concern, give the student time to talk. Listen carefully to both the content and emotions of the situation. Respect the student’s value system, even if you do not agree. Avoid giving advice, judging, evaluating and criticizing. Sometimes the reason(s) a student is struggling is not due to being lazy, distracted or partying too much.
  4. Do not promise confidentiality. If the student tells you they are having suicidal thoughts, is thinking of harming self or others, or reports sexual misconduct or relationships violence, you have a responsibility to tell someone (i.e. Public Safety, Student Wellness, Title IX Coordinator, etc.)
  5. Communicate that it takes courage and strength to seek support. Remind the student that asking for help or admitting that you need support is never a sign of weakness.
  6. Make a referral to Student Wellness. Be frank with the student about the limits of your ability to help. Emphasize the importance of professional help and discuss the services provided by Student Wellness. Let the student know that USD Wellness Services are confidential and free for all students. No problem is too big or too small to get help!
  7. Follow up. Let the student know you will check back in with them.

What should I do if I want to make a non-emergency referral?

Encourage the student to:
  • Call Student Wellness at (619) 260-4655 to schedule an initial appointment.

  • Walk to any of the Wellness units during business hours; the Counseling Center works diligently to ensure on-going consultation availability.

  • Visit the Counseling Center website and schedule same or next-day appointment.

If you believe a student needs extra support and encouragement, offer to let them call from your office.

It may be helpful to share with the student more information about the process, such as:

  • The Counseling Center is staffed by psychologists, interns and a psychiatrist.
  • Initial assessments and brief therapy are confidential and free of charge.
  • The differences between the different units of the Wellness areas.

What should I do if I need to make an emergency referral?

An emergency referral is appropriate when students are in imminent danger of hurting themselves or others, or when you believe a student is out of control.

If the emergency occurs during Counseling Center business hours, call 619-260-4655 and ask to speak to the counselor on call. Please make clear that it is an urgent situation. If needed, contact Public Safety 24/7 at 619-260-2222.


Once a referral has been made, it is understandable to want to find out what happened and how you an continue to help. However, all Wellness staff are bound by the principles of confidentiality as defined by our disciplines and California Law. Wellness staff cannot share information about a student or confirm whether they have come in for an appointment without the student’s consent.

We can answer general questions about making referrals, offer information about wellness concerns, provide other referral ideas, take information from you regarding specific behaviors of a student and share information with you about a student if they have signed a consent form.

We understand the importance of having open communication with faculty and staff to best help students in need. Rest assured, we regularly seek students’ authorization to contact referral sources, faculty and staff in order to coordinate services.

USD strongly encourages all members of the university community to report information about any incident of Sexual Misconduct or Relationship Violence as soon as possible, whether the incident occurred on or off campus. Reports can be made either to USD or to law enforcement.