Recognizing and Assisting Distressed Students

Being A Referral Agent

When it comes to situations where students need support, the first thing to understand is that you don't have to be a counselor or therapist, but rather you are a REFERRAL AGENT. The UCS has trained clinicians in these areas. Your job is to get the student in question connected to these services. Faculty/Staff Student Referral Form

Your job is NOT to provide:

- ongoing counseling to a depressed student,
- nor to assess whether or not someone is suicidal

What you Should do as a Referral Agent

This is not to say that referring someone is an easy task. Your willingness to show an interest in a student's dilemma may make the difference between his/her seeking counseling versus struggling alone. The guidelines outlined below will help you work your way through difficult situations with students and hopefully move them toward referral. These guidelines are not designed to be followed rigidly or to bind you to a certain series of steps; rather, they are provided to give you some basic information about how to effectively deal with people in crisis. Your personal style is as important as anything else, so don't forget to be yourself.

Follow these links for more information:

  1. Identifying Warning Signs

  2. When a Student Comes to You with a Concern

  3. When You Wish to Approach a Student

  4. Making Thorough Referrals


If someone is in immediate crisis, you can walk them to the University Counseling & Wellbeing Center: 636 Fisher Hall

After hours, you may contact Campus Police at 412-396-COPS (2677).

Information in this site is not intended to replace a one-on-one consultation with a licensed mental health worker.  If you are a student having problems, we urge you to contact us at 412.396.6204 to schedule an appointment.