Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

Red Folder

Main content start

Guidance for faculty, staff, community leaders, and families supporting student well-being at Stanford.

Change is challenging even when we choose it, and we all need support as we move through any kind of change. We also need to take steps to support our personal well-being beyond our intellectual lives and accomplishments. Because we are recovering from the collective trauma caused by COVID-19 we require warmth, understanding, and patience. Students want to know that you care about them and, importantly, what kind of support they can expect from you. They want to know that you, too, are an imperfect human who experiences failure, setbacks, and disappointment. Mental health and well-being are top of mind now more than ever.


How Is Student Well-Being Now?

What Challenges Are Students Experiencing Right Now?

Loneliness and minimal social support. Entering an unpredictable period of transition. Recovering from collective trauma.

How Do I Let Students Know That I Care About Them, and That They Can Talk to Me?

Tell them right from the start.

How Can I Be Responsive to Students' Needs?

Make space for well-being. Facilitate connection.

Signs of Distress

Many times you will not see any obvious signs of distress because we tend to keep our vulnerabilities to ourselves until we know we can trust one another. Check in with and get to know students whenever you can to help build that trust. Try to create an ongoing sense of welcome and belonging. Ultimately, students want to know you care about them. Sometimes you will be able to sense that a student is struggling. 

Below are a few ways that signs of distress may show up.

How to Respond When You’re Concerned About a Student’s Well-Being

Say what you see

Say what you've noticed, and avoid making any judgments or assumptions. Sometimes you won’t see any overt signs of distress, and yet you’ll still be  aware of many things happening in the world that are causing distress in students’ lives.

"Hi _____, I just wanted to check in. I've noticed _____, and wanted to see if you want to talk about it.” 

Show you care

Showing you care about a student's well-being can have a positive impact on their mental well-being, and increase the likelihood they seek help if needed.

Build trust. Ask what they need. The kind of support a student needs will change based on the context, and the only way to know what kind of support they need is to ask.

"I care about your well-being, so I just wanted to check in to see how you're doing. I want to know how I can be the most helpful for you."

Hear them out

Be there to listen. Listen patiently as you try to understand where they're coming from, and take time to affirm their emotional experience. Your full presence in itself can be healing. 

Your role is to be a warm, supportive presence for this student who is struggling. You’re not there to fix anything or give unsolicited advice. Acknowledge difficult emotions, and instill hope that, with help, things can get better.

“I’m sorry, that seems like a such a hard situation to be in, what has that been like for you?”

Know your role

Safety first. Do not hesitate to call Public Safety (911) for help. Your safety, and that of our students and community, is our top priority.

Consult. Share your concern with the Dean of Students Office, or call the Resident Director on-call, GLO Dean on-call, or CAPS for further consultation whenever you need. These resources can give you advice, or help take over a situation that has escalated and requires mobilization of many resources.

“I'm sorry you're going through this, and honored that you've been vulnerable with me....”

“Your feelings and experiences are real, and things can get better….I want to help.”

Connect to help

Help them connect to resources. Students in distress may need help connecting with a resource. Showing them how to access a resource increases the likelihood that they actually do. 

Student of Concern Form: To submit a non-urgent Student of Concern form to the Dean of Students Office, please visit:


“Thank you for being so open with me. I want to stay connected as you move through this challenge, and I also want to make sure that you’re getting the kind of help you need. I really think you may find ______ to be a very helpful and comforting resource. Their whole job is to support students through these very challenges.

“Can I help you connect with ______?”

Mental Health and Well-Being Resources

Visit the new Mental Health Resources at Stanford website for help navigating the many mental health and well-being resources at Stanford.

Access an HTML version of the "In Case of Emergency" graphic at this link


Access an HTML version of the "Urgent Response Needed" graphic at this link
Access an HTML version of the "Non-Urgent Situation" graphic at this link


Stanford Resources

(undergraduate and graduate students)

Postdoc Resources

Sexual, Relationship, and Gender-Based Violence

Off-Campus 24/7 Crisis Resources

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers 24/7 free and confidential support for people in distress. Call 988 24/7 for support. CR
  • Crisis text hotline is here for any crisis. A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds, all from our secure online platform. Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime.
  • The Trevor Project provides crisis support services to LGBTQ young people. To reach a trained counselor at any time, call 1.866.488.7386 or text 678-678.
  • BlackLine provides a space for peer support, counseling, witnessing and affirming the lived experiences to folxs who are most impacted by systematic oppression with an LGBTQ+ Black Femme Lens. BlackLine® prioritizes BIPOC  (Black, Indigenous and People of Color). Call or text 800.604.5841 for support.
  • Trans Line Hotline is a peer support phone service run by trans people for our trans and questioning peers. Call us if you need someone trans to talk to, even if you’re not in crisis or if you’re not sure you’re trans. Call 877.565.8860  for support. 

Student of Concern Form

Whenever you have a non-urgent concern about a student’s well-being.

Privacy and Information Sharing


Version 5 — August 2022 — Say/Show/Hear/Know/Connect” content adapted with permission from’s Be There resources.