Worried about a student

Advice for academic advisers and other staff

Remember, if the situation is beyond your ability refer it to a more appropriate team.

Some students will talk to you about their difficulties, whilst others may avoid asking for help and show their difficulties through a change in personal habits, course attendance or academic performance.

If your support is not helping them to address the problem, or the situation is beyond your ability, you may wish to make a referral for counselling. The Student Counselling Service is available to give informal advice and consultancy to staff who are unsure how to manage a situation.

The School has produced a document for staff:

A supplement for wardens and sub-wardens is also available.

If you are dealing with a serious student situation, please ensure you report this to the Student Counselling Service or Disability and Wellbeing Service without delay; staff in residences should use Hallpad.

For emergencies or urgent situations please see Emergencies and Feeling suicidal.


When should you be concerned about a student?

You should be worried about a student if

  • You notice a change in their standards of academic work or performance or repeated failures to attend classes
  • They report to you or someone else that they have a problem.
  • Other people express concern like friends, room-mates, colleagues.
  • You notice a change in the way they sound or speak (flat-toned, very quiet, loud, agitated).
  • You notice a change in their mood from what is usual for them (high, low, miserable, sad, tired).
  • You notice a change in their weight or personal hygiene.
  • You often notice smells of alcohol/ non-prescribed drugs
  • They report self-harm or plans to end it all.

In these circumstances it is often better to identify sooner that a student is having difficulties. You need to make a judgment about the student's level of distress. If in doubt, talk to a colleague about your concerns, rather than keeping them to yourself. This can be done on a 'no names' basis.

How should I talk to a student about getting help?

Encourage them to take responsibility for arranging counselling themselves: 

  • Avoid using 'should' and 'ought', rather suggest 'How would you feel about talking to a counsellor?'
  • Seeing a counsellor does not mean that they are 'having a breakdown' or 'are crazy'.

How should I suggest counselling?

Counselling can be seen as an added support structure.

  • Reassure them about the confidentiality of the counselling service. For more information read Key Policies on the Student Counselling Service Page.
  • Use positive language, eg 'develop some alternative strategies', 'talking to someone independent to help work out a different approach/ new ways of thinking'.
  • Students need to contact the service themselves to make an appointment.
  • Suggest they look at the website to find out about individual counselling, groups  or workshops.

How should I respond to someone who is upset or causing concern?

  • Stay calm, listen to the person and acknowledge the problem.
  • Recognise the person's feelings and communicate your understanding.
  • Show that you are concerned and can offer support.
  • Avoid getting over-involved or being over-critical.
  • Be direct and clear, especially about confidentiality and the limitations of your role.
  • Take threats of self harm, attempted suicide or plans to end it all very seriously.
  • If you are an Academic Mentor, inform your departmental tutor or make contact with another advisor.

When should I refer somebody to a Mental Health Adviser?

  • In a crisis situation or if there is a need to refer to a psychiatrist.
  • When someone needs to be pro-active and contact a disturbed student.
  • Where the School can make Reasonable Adjustments or Individual Exam Adjustments.
  • If you need emergency help call 999 without delay

LSE Mental Health Advisers can be contacted directly via the Student Counselling Service: 020 7852 3627 or the Disability and Wellbeing Service:  020 7955 7767.

How do I deal with a reported forced marriage?

If you are dealing with a student facing forced marriage please read Forced Marriage: an information sheet for LSE staff.



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Contact us


Telephone +44 (0)20 7852 3627


Counselling Service, 4th Floor, Tower 3, Clements Inn, London, WC2A 2AZ