December 05, 2022

How to support students’ emotional health

Faculty and staff are often the frontlines of support for students in distress; nearly 80% of higher education faculty reported having dealt with student mental health issues over the past 12 months (The Role of Faculty in Student Mental Health, Mary Christie Foundation, 2021). 

The emotional well-being of students has become a top priority in higher education as mental health challenges among college students have risen significantly in recent years. It can feel intimidating or overwhelming to think about supporting students’ emotional health, especially given all of the responsibilities you already have. 

The good news is you are not alone in supporting students and have access to a variety of referral resources. Here are  for how you can be proactively engaged with students you work with and responsive to their needs.  

  • Maintain an approachable demeanor and show an interest in students and colleagues.
  • Talk frequently about well-being in meetings and classes, model the importance of self-care, and do your part to reduce stigma about seeking support for mental health. 
  • Set aside opportunities to talk without distractions and really listen to what people are telling you. 
  • Speak in a calm and reassuring manner, being sure to validate one’s feelings. 
  • If you are concerned, question openly and directly: “Share with me how you have been doing.” Or “I’ve noticed you’ve stopped handing in work. Is something going on?” 
  • Ask them what they think may help and if you can assist in some way. 
  • Review available resources, assisting them with accessing those resources if needed. 
  • Follow up to check in on how individuals are doing.  

If you are concerned about a student, let the person know that you care and would like to help. Encourage counseling or submit a Saluki Cares report at You may want to help them call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 618-453-5371 or walk them to a CAPS location for a counseling session. Help is available seven days a week during the day and evening. Follow up with them to check on how they are doing and if their needs are being met.  

Not sure how to help? You can always call a counselor at CAPS and provide information about a student. CAPS provides confidential counseling services for students and can assist in a variety of ways.