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Students or Family Concerned About a Student

Are you worried about a student? Suggestions for friends, parents and family

There are various ways you can provide support depending on the situation. Many times, you will be the first to recognize comments, behaviors or changes that cause you to be concerned about a student. And there may be times, based on your relationship with a student, where she or he may also come to you to share their concerns, struggles and feelings.

If you are worried about a student’s immediate safety or well-being, call 911 so that the police can respond. If you are unsure about a student’s immediate safety, please call Counseling and Consultation Services (CCS) at 815-753-1206 to consult about your concerns. We can help you identify next steps and the options that are available.

Here are some suggestions to offer support:

  • Before having a conversation, think about the most important things you’d like to communicate about your concerns.
  • Find a time that is good for the student so that the conversation is not rushed or argumentative. Let them know in advance that you would like to talk about how they are doing.
  • Be specific about your concerns. Communicate the details of why you’re concerned and what you’ve noticed. Let them know you’re there for them and want them to get any help they need at this difficult time.
  • Ask how they have been feeling and if they are experiencing specific concerns. Listen and provide space for them to talk. Try to be patient, understanding and non-judgmental.
  • If you are uncertain or concerned that a student is experiencing suicidal thoughts, you can ask about this. Again, be direct and ask if they have any thoughts of harming themselves or if they have any concerns about their immediate safety. Asking these questions does not put the idea of suicide in someone’s head, it provides a chance for them to talk about these concerns if this is what they are already experiencing.
  • Ask the student if they feel counseling would be helpful to discuss their concerns and get support. You can provide more information about CCS and our initial consultation appointment. You can emphasize that CCS staff members are trained professionals with experience providing counseling to NIU students and that counseling sessions are confidential. You can also encourage the student to go to our website or call the office to learn more about CCS to take the first step to get help.
  • Be encouraging and supportive, even if a student is uncertain or hesitant about taking the step to talk with a CCS counselor. It is not helpful to force or demand a student to attend counseling. Counseling is most beneficial when a person makes this decision for herself or himself.
  • If possible, you can offer to come to CCS with the student to begin the initial consultation process. We are located in the Campus Life Building, room 200.
  • Follow up with the student after the conversation about how they are feeling and ways you can provide continued support. If they remain hesitant to attend counseling, you can continue to provide gentle encouragement and express that this might be most helpful, especially if they continue to experience more significant concerns. If you know the student is attending counseling, you can ask how this is going and ways counseling has been helpful.