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. This page will help you:
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.
If a student is at immediate risk of harm to themselves or to others, call 999 and follow the advice below for Level 3: Emergency / urgent situation.
Identify the level of concern and what action to take
Level 1: Moderate Concern
This is when there are ongoing concerns about health, wellbeing or behaviour, but there’s no evident risk to the student or others. Examples include anxiety, depression, bereavement and loss.
Your next steps should be to:
- Offer support
- Monitor the situation
- Signpost to support services
- Speak to others on a need-to-know basis to work out if further action is needed (see 'confidentiality')
Level 2: Serious Concern
This is where the situation is not an emergency but cannot be ignored. The student is safe from immediate risk but may have self-harmed or be having vague suicidal thoughts, significant distress or serious depression. You should:
- Contact the Student Wellbeing Service by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the header ‘Serious Concern’
- Contact the student’s GP
- Inform your line manager or a member of your department (see 'confidentiality')
Level 3: Serious Concern
This is an emergency or urgent situation with a clear and immediate risk to the student or others
Examples include active talk of suicide, plans to end their life, a need for urgent medical attention, a clear risk of harm to or from others, seeming out of touch with reality or hearing voices.
- Immediately call 999 for urgent assistance. Explain the situation - they will decide what help is needed.
- Ensure LSE Security is aware of your call and the response from 999 so they can direct the emergency services to the right location and/or stay with the student. Contact details for LSE Security are 666 or 020 7955 6555 on campus and 020 3486 2882 outside of campus.
- If possible, try not to leave the student alone. They could be observed by you or a colleague from a distance while you make the appropriate calls.
- Afterwards, inform your line manager or a member of your Department, and the Student Wellbeing Service - email Disability-Dyslexia@lse.ac.uk and write “URGENT” in the subject line. Explain that you have an urgent concern about a student.
- In the unlikely event that you suspect an immediate risk of harm via an act of terrorism, you should call 999. The School Secretary and LSE Security should also be informed; in case any further action is required.
Be open with the student about confidentiality
You can let the student know that you will keep their personal information confidential but that you have a duty of care to pass on serious concerns to other staff on a ‘need to know’ basis, and to keep accurate notes about serious concerns about a student. In practice, this means:
- You would only speak to another member of staff on a ‘need to know’ basis
- Where possible you would ask the student for their agreement to talk to others
- You are expected to speak to someone else who can help, rather than keeping concerns about a student to yourself
- You can ask for advice from a line manager or colleagues, without giving a student’s name in the first instance
- If you have concerns you can also seek advice from the Student Wellbeing Service
Important: Keep a record
Keeping notes is necessary to help you, the student and any colleagues who may be required to support the student at a later date. Record all actions taken and decisions, including reasons why actions were not taken, and including your own and by others. Keep a factual written record of the discussion and agreed outcome.
Staff training module and Cause for Concern brochure
Please refer to the Cause for Concern brochure (PDF) for full details about identifying and managing crisis and non-emergency situations.
Cause for Concern Brochure
You can learn more about signposting, listening skills, confidentiality, managing boundaries and record-keeping on our online training module, which takes 20-30 minutes to complete. We encourage all members of staff to take this module to refresh your understanding of our most recent guidance.
Take the Staff Training Module
Frequently Asked Questions
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 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.
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'.
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.
- 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 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 Central 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.