Bring Care to Your Community

Support your students' mental health.

Communicate with CARE

If you're concerned about something a student's said, a change in their behavior, or if they've reached out to you for support, approach the conversation with a calm, open, and reflective perspective. If you're not sure where to start or what to say, remember CARE.

C: Connect

Connect one-on-one when you notice these signs or anytime you're concerned.

A: Actively Listen

Practice active listening during this conversation.

R: Respond with Compassion

Respond with patience and understanding. Let your student know you care. 

E: End with a Next Step

Encourage your student to get help and suggest resources. Offer the level of help and support you can. 

Use these steps to check in with a student or respond to a student's concerns.

Inviting a Student to Talk

Setting: try for one-on-one whenever possible

Tone: casual, concerned, open, curious 

Phrases that can help:  


  • I’ve noticed... Give examples of what you’ve noticed like: You’ve missed a lot of class lately, you’re falling asleep in class, you’re last few exams have gone differently.
  • I’m concerned about... refer to the specific statement, behavior 
  • Give them the option to talk: Is this something you want to talk about?
  • If not, gently let them know there are lots of kinds of support that you can help them connect with if they want. 

Responding to a Student

Setting: suggest meeting one-on-one whenever possible

Tone: calm, reflective, validating, collaborative

Goal: encourage help-seeking or choose a next step together

Phrases that can help:
  • Thank you for sharing this with me. That does sound tough. Would you like to brainstorm some next steps?
  • I’m glad you reached out. There’s good support on campus. I’ll help you connect with it.
  • I hear that you feel hopeless/helpless right now. I think our counseling center can help. Let’s go over there together.
  • I can tell you’re very upset, and I’m concerned about you. Let’s get you connected with someone who can help you stay safe.


  • Stay calm, curious, and compassionate 
  • Listen with empathy without trying to fix the problem
  • Ask how, when, what questions (how did that happen, when did you start feeling that way, what’s important about this to you) or simply say, “Tell me more.” 
  • Paraphrase what they’re saying


  • Trying to fix the situation or jump in with a solution 
  • Platitudes, “at least” “you have so much going for you” “everything will be okay”  
  • Judgment of what they’re saying and their experience 
  • Telling them their perspective is wrong. 
  • A big reaction 
  • Why questions, especially those that suggest the feelings aren’t valid like “Why is this bothering you?” or “Why are you so sensitive about that?” 


When a student shares something difficult or vulnerable, acknowledge that. Tell them something like, “Thank you so much for sharing this with me, I know that was probably hard to do.” This can make a big difference in how seen, heard, and validated someone feels. 

Ask how you can support them in this moment. Sometimes we think we know what’s best for someone, but most of the time we don’t. Try questions like: 

  • Do you want me to listen?  
  • Are you looking for feedback or solutions?
  • Can I help you find resources/

Responding with compassion when you're concerned about suicide:

If the thought enters your mind at all that a student may be suicidal, having suicidal thoughts, or at risk for suicide, ask them: “Are you thinking about suicide?”  

This is probably the part of the conversation that will be most uncomfortable to you. Don’t let that stop you. Ask anyway because this is also one of the most important parts of this conversation.  

Counselor tip: Practice saying, “Are you thinking about suicide?” out loud. Choose a friend or another family member to roleplay with and take turns asking the question.   

How faculty and staff can play a role in suicide prevention.

Responding with compassion when you're concerned about drugs or alcohol:

If you're concerned that someone's using drugs but you don't know, it's okay to ask, "Are you using any drugs?" Try to approach this without assuming that they are using drugs or how much they may be using. Avoid judgment, lectures, or labels like "addict" during this conversation.

How to start a conversation about addiction.

Responding with compassion when you're concerned about relationship violence or abuse:

Let your student know you are there to help them get support. Try to follow their lead - ask them how they feel things are going or what they're thinking of doing about any relationship concerns they may have. 

If your student is open to help, connect them with support like Survivor Support Services

Ways faculty and staff can fight sexual violence on campus.

Whatever a student's going through, you don’t have to help them through it alone. Encourage them to get support, whether that’s from the family, friends, a mental health professional, etc.  Take a collaborative approach with your student and offer to come up with a plan for their next steps together.

Counselor tip: Offer to go with them, ask who is a supportive person in their life that could go with them, schedule a time to follow up and check in on how it went 

Support Student Wellbeing

Bring CARE to your class or group to make it a safe and supportive space. From the language on your syllabus and the way you design your class to the way you interact with students, you can play a role in supporting student wellbeing.

Not sure where to start? Remember these essential elements:

Psychological Safety

The shared belief of the group that it's safe to be yourself in the space. You can ask questions, try new things, make mistakes, and talk about failure in a psychologically safe environment.


Leave room in your class to be flexible, adapt to student needs, and respond to campus and current events. 


Create opportunities for perspective-shifting, authenticity, and connection.

Model Self-Care and Wellbeing

Model wellbeing through the pacing of your class, due dates of assignments, or encouraging self-care as part of your class.

Help at the Level You Can

How to Help