Helping Students to Connect to Support

Faculty and staff are often in a position to recognize (or to be informed of) when a student is in distress. The information on this page should help to guide responses to these situations.

A student who is exhibiting marked changes in personality, mood, or typical (observed) behavior, or who is making overt disclosures of personal issues or information, may benefit from meeting with a counselor.

Any of the following actions are encouraged when these (non-urgent) concerns arise: Engaging in conversation with the student, consulting with Student Wellness, or (in cases where there is an academic performance concern), making a referral to the Care Team. To discuss (non-urgent) concerns for the well-being of a student, please contact Student Wellness/Mental Health Counseling at or at 774.357.2760

*When a student is acting in a manner that is threatening or violent, including making verbal threats of harm to self of others, Bristol Police should be contacted immediately at extension 3911.

Examples of Behavior that May be Concerning:

  • Uncharacteristic decline in academic work, or athletic performance
  • Uncharacteristic absences from class or other commitments
  • Multiple (repeated) requests for exceptions/special consideration
  • Avoidance of faculty, staff, coaches, and other students
  • Repeatedly confiding in you with personal problems
  • Difficulty speaking or articulating thoughts
  • Noticeable change in personal hygiene
  • Uncharacteristic irritability
  • Excessive procrastination
  • Dramatic weight changes
  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Intense emotional states
  • Indications of substance use/abuse 

Guidance on Connecting or Referring a Student to Counseling:

When making a referral or connection to counseling, it's important to remember that it's the student's choice to seek and engage in counseling. The student should know that they may explore the experience to see if it is right for them. In non-urgent situations, you may recommend that the student email or call 774.357.2760 to schedule an appointment. You may, in some cases, choose to walk with the student to counseling or another place of safety. If you would like suggestions on how to approach a particular situation, consultation is available.

The following may help you in supporting students-of-concern:

  • Know that when a student shares something in “confidence” it does not obligate you to keep it confidential. Not only does confidentiality generally not apply in issues of personal safety, but faculty and staff are not bound by (this type of) confidentiality unless acting in a protected, professional capacity.  
  • Avoid using clinical terms or trying to diagnose a student. Unless a student discloses a particular diagnosis, describe behaviors in concrete terms based on personal observations.
  • Ask the student if they have talked with a professional about their problems. Let the student know you can connect them to Mental Health Counseling at Bristol if they are not speaking with a professional.
  • Let the student know you will support them in getting help.
  • Help the student to understand the first meeting with Mental Health Counseling will be a consultation and will not obligate the student to continue with treatment.
  • Inform the student that additional information is available at
  • Let the student know that when they are deciding whether counseling may be useful, they can take free, confidential online assessments at