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Information for Faculty & Staff

In an Emergency Heading link

If a student is at imminent risk of harming themselves or someone else, call 911. If you are on campus, you can call the UIC Hospital Emergency Room at (312) 996-7297 or UIC Police at (312) 355-5555. Check out our crisis services page for additional information about the Counseling Center’s 24/7 crisis intervention services.

Helping Students in Distress Heading link

Learn more about suicide warning signs, practical tips for helping students, Counseling Center services, and how to open conversations about recent distressing events.

Some common signs of suicidality that warrant a referral to the Counseling Center include:

  • Suicide threats or previous suicide attempts
  • Statements revealing a desire to die
  • Alcohol and drug abuse: sudden changes in uses.
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Persistent low mood, hopelessness, anxiety, withdrawal, desperation
  • Neglect of school work, personal grooming or other routine tasks.
  • Changes in physical health such as changes in sleep habits, appetite, weight, or energy level.
  • Personal crises and major losses or rejections.
  • Loss of relationship
  • Making final arrangements
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Purchasing a gun or stockpiling pills
  • Perceived or actual lack of support
  • Ominous, dark, or vague social media posts or sudden withdrawal from social media use.
  • Academic concerns that may be experienced as failure
  • Lacking coping skills and feelings of Hopelessness
  • ​Identity concerns
  1. If possible, arrange a private time to talk with the student.
  2. Discuss your observations that led you to become concerned. Avoid being judgmental or making assumptions about the cause of their apparent distress.
  3. Keep the tone of your talk supportive, reassuring, and empathic. The success of this conversation has less to do with what you say and more to do with how you say it.
  4. Let the student respond to your concerns – listen!
  5. Validate student’s concerns; remember, saying “That sounds really hard” is often a better strategy in this situation than giving concrete advice or trying to talk the student out of how they are feeling.
  6. Re-emphasize your support and care, regardless of how they respond.
  7. You may want to mention that you have seen other students struggle with similar issues, and that the multiple stressors associated with attending college can be overwhelming.
  8. Students do not have to struggle with their issues on their own. If appropriate, mention that there are additional people on campus who can help and offer to assist the student in making these contacts, including the Counseling Center (available at 312-996-3490; press “2” if after business hours to speak with the Counseling Center After-Hours Crisis Counselor). You can also provide information for the 24-Hour Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255)]. Check out our crisis services page for more resources.
  9. Mention that receiving services at the Counseling Center is strictly confidential as protected by law.
    10. Though the student may reject your offer of support or referral, remain supportive and remember that you need not be alone in your efforts to help. Feel free to consult with the Counseling Center staff before and/or after you speak with the student.

As faculty and staff, one of our fundamental goals is to support students during their time at UIC, both with their academic career and emotional wellbeing. Recent violent events, and on-going civil unrest, has highlighted our country’s devastating White Supremacist ideologies and pervasive social injustices, impacting the wellbeing and mental health of our UIC students and surrounding communities. The outline below provides some suggestions for how you can support your students by opening up a dialogue in your classrooms, with the goal of your students feeling heard and understood. It can be most helpful to facilitate discussions in a timely manner following painful, traumatic, or violent events.

  • Invite students to share their thoughts and reactions, while informing them that they are not required to participate. Should students choose not to speak, perhaps remind them of your office hours, e-mail, or other supportive spaces on campus.
  • Remind students that their unique perspectives are valuable and that the focus of the conversation will be on support, not judgment. Depending on the nature of event that prompted this discussion, it may be helpful to explicitly affirm that we value our diverse student body at UIC and that our students belong and are valued in our community.
  • Sharing some of your own thoughts/feelings may invite others to speak (“I’m carrying great sadness related to these events and the potential impact on you all”).
  • Remember, the focus of these discussions is for students to feel heard and validated. Providing empathetic statements and reflections can help convey your support.
    • “It sounds like you are very concerned with how your family may be impacted”
    • “I’m hearing how angry and frustrating you feel due to these events.”
  • If having these conversations remotely, invite students to share their reactions on a chat box.
  • It may be helpful to return to this conversation in the future to check in on how students are coping.
    • “It’s been a few weeks since we last check-in. How are all of you doing?”
  • Consider flexibility: if a student approaches you and asks for an extension on account of being negatively impacted by events in the community, aim to have a conversation about accommodations that still hold the student accountable for learning while honoring their unique reaction and process to the events at hand.
  • Take time to check-in and assess what feelings are most present for you prior to engaging with your students
    • For our faculty/staff of color: you may notice feelings of tension, unease or anxiety when witnessing or hearing about violence committed towards communities of color. Your feelings are valid. It may be helpful to find space with your colleagues, family, or professional caregivers or mentors to process your reactions.
    • For our faculty/staff that are White or hold multiple privileged identities – consider the possible discomfort that may arise when hearing about students’ reactions towards White supremacy and racism, and observe any instinct to avoid or shut down during these important discussions. Consider using spaces available to you to process those feelings, so that you can hold space for your students in a more equanimous manner.

Please know the Counseling Center remains steadfast in our support and availability to you. Students can contact the Counseling Center by calling us at 312.996.3490; press “2” if calling after-hours to be connected to a crisis counselor.  Please direct students to our website to learn about the vast amount of services available to them, including talking to a counselor one-on-one, group therapy, workshops on topics such as coping with anxiety and managing painful emotions, a self-care app, and more. Faculty and staff may also contact the Counseling Center to consult about a student of concern or discuss further how to facilitate these discussions.

The Counseling Center is a comprehensive psychological services center, providing initial consultations, counseling, and referral to UIC students. We offer individual, couples, and group therapy, as well as consultations for concerned others and psychoeducational workshops. Our services are confidential and available at no charge for currently enrolled students. We are also available to faculty and staff for consultation.

The Counseling Center is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, with evening hours available by appointment only. We are located in Suite 2010, Student Services Building. Appointments can be scheduled or consultations obtained by calling (312) 996-3490.

The Center is accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services, and its doctoral internship is accredited by the American Psychological Association. The Center staff includes licensed and board certified psychologists and psychiatrists, clinical therapists, psychology interns and externs, a social worker, and trained paraprofessionals. The Center has been serving the University of Illinois at Chicago for more than 35 years, and it is part of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

If you are worried about a student, please feel free to call the Counseling Center to talk about possible courses of action and how to best help your student. Just call (312) 996-3490 and ask to consult with a liaison or any available staff member. In the case of an urgent situation where you might want to walk a student over to our office, please call ahead if possible to ensure that someone will be there to meet with you when you arrive.

Test Your Knowledge Heading link

Remember... Heading link

  1. What you say is not as important as how you say it.
  2. Starting a conversation about suicide does NOT increase the likelihood that someone will make an attempt.
  3.  Managing thoughts of suicide is an ongoing and continuous process. You can be an important connection for students to a higher level of support. Remember that you do not have a responsibility to solve the student’s concerns. Think of yourself as the connector, not a therapist.
  4.  It is not uncommon to have a variety of feelings when helping students who are experiencing thoughts of suicide. Make sure to take care of yourself.

Dean of Students Consultation & Assistance Request

Letters, Accommodations, and Other Requests Heading link

Please be aware that the Counseling Center does not provide specific recommendations about accommodations, extensions, excused absences, or any other changes in course policies or assignments for any specific student. In most circumstances, the Counseling Center can only provide a brief letter verifying that a student has received services with us, and we must receive written permission from the student to share this information. The decision to amend course policies or assignments generally rests with the instructor, and a service verification letter is not required to do so. Students with disabilities seeking academic accommodations may arrange these through the Disability Resource Center.

We are happy to provide consultation about ways to incorporate mental health considerations into your courses, research labs, and other activities. Some ideas to support student mental health in course design and instruction include:

  • Follow the best practices in UIC’s Accessible Teaching and Accommodations Guide.
  • Include content warnings for subjects that may be distressing, sensitive, or triggering. Content warnings can help students emotionally prepare for these topics. See a list of some content warnings you can use.
  • Invite students to speak to you about concerns. It can be incredibly difficult for a student to share information about their mental health for several reasons including fear of stigma, power differences, and cultural expectations. Differences in age, race, gender, language, sexuality, or other identities can make these conversations even more intimidating at times. Including a simple statement on your syllabus that you welcome students to speak with you about how any mental health concerns may impact their learning can help make these discussions easier.
  • If a student tells you about a mental health concern, believe them. Many students avoid speaking up about their needs because they’re worried their instructor will think they’re “just making excuses.” Students often genuinely want to learn course material but have real mental health concerns that make it difficult to engage, follow deadlines, or complete specific assignments. Starting from an assumption of honesty usually leads to solutions that enhance student’s personal and academic development.