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Creating a Culture of Care: Resources for Faculty and Staff to Support Students in Distress


COVID-19: The Triton Concern Line is operating 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. Student Affairs Case Management staff are available for case management and consultation by phone, email, and Zoom during regular business hours.

As faculty and staff, you play a crucial role in creating a community of care at UC San Diego by identifying and assisting students who show signs of emotional, physical, or psychological distress. If a situation appears imminently life-threatening, please call 911.

Who is a student that may need support?

A student whose academic progress or functioning in the university environment is adversely affected due to a number of indicators outlined below, that are impacting their well-being and/or the well-being of others.

Training Videos and Presentations

Responding to Students in Distress

View a recording of the May 15, 2020 presentation by Dr. Mary Anderson on Responding to Students in Distress.

Watch Now

Student Health and Well-being Training

View a recording of the April 24, 2020 presentation on Student Health and Well-being.

Watch Now

Guide for Supporting Students in Distress

Download this informational resource to assist in supporting distressed or disruptive students

Red Folder (PDF)

Indicators of Distress

Poor personal hygiene Withdrawal or isolation Delusions or paranoia
Change in appetite; weight loss or gain Loss of interest or pleasure in activities Guilt or worthlessness
Agitation or restlessness Increased alcohol or substance use Sad, anxious, empty mood or mood swings
Change in sleep Irritability or anger References to suicide
Recurring physical complaints Missed or late arrival to class/ work Threats to harm self or others

How to Respond

Does the student pose a danger to themselves or others, or need immediate assistance for any reason?


The student's conduct is clearly and imminently reckless, disorderly, dangerous, or threatening and is suggestive of harm to self or others in the community.

The student shows signs of distress, but I am not sure how serious it is.

My interaction has left me feeling uneasy and/or concerned about the student.

I am not concerned for the student's immediate safety, but the student is having significant academic and/or personal issues and could use some support or additional resources.

Call Campus Police:
at 911
(emergency) or
(urgent but not an emergency)

Call the
Triton Concern Line
Available 24/7

Refer to an appropriate resource from the Resources for Students below, or call the
Triton Concern Line

Tips for Interacting with a Distressed Student

Safety First

The welfare of the campus community is the top priority when a student displays threatening or potentially violent behavior. Call for the appropriate help.

Be Proactive

Engage students early, pay attention to signs of distress, and set limits on disruptive behavior.

Use Direct Language

Do not be afraid to ask students directly if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, feeling confused, or having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming others.

Listen from a Place of Care

Use a non-confrontational approach and a calm voice. Avoid threatening, humiliating, and intimidating responses.

Refer to a Resource

Direct the student to the identified resource. If you are able, make a warm handoff by calling the resource prior to sending the student or walking the student to the resource.

Consultation and Documentation

Always document your interactions with the distressed student, notifying your chair/ supervisor as necessary.

Follow Up

Follow up with the student to determine how they are doing. This small act will go a long way toward assisting a student in distress.

Faculty and Staff Resources

How to Support Students of Concern guide (PDF)

Training, Education and Resources (PDF)

Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management Team
The goal of the team is to mitigate behavioral threats and significant disruptions to the UC San Diego community through an integrative process of communication, education, prevention, problem identification, assessment, and recommendation of action.

Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP)
FSAP is a free and confidential service designed to help all university employees resolve concerns that may be affecting personal well-being and/or job performance. This includes support for campus leaders such as faculty and staff acting as contacts and first responders in our community.

Office for the Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination (OPHD)
OPHD works to resolve complaints of discrimination and harassment through informal resolution or formal investigation. The office explains and clarifies university policies and procedures regarding discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. OPHD collaborates with other UC San Diego offices in resolving complaints, and offers a variety of training programs and workshops in the prevention of sexual violence, sexual harassment, and all forms of discrimination for students, faculty, and staff.

Contact Us About Student Concerns

To report a non-emergency concern about a student, call the Triton Concern Line at (858) 246-1111.

When you call the Triton Concern Line, your call will be routed to the appropriate Dean of Student Affairs within one business day for appropriate follow-up with the student. The caller will receive an email with contact information for the person to whom the call was routed, should the caller choose to follow up. The Dean of Student Affairs may provide information to the caller as permitted by FERPA.

Contact a Student Affairs Case Manager

The Student Affairs Case Management Services team are an excellent resource for faculty and staff who seek consultation about a student in distress, or have general questions about a concerning student situation.

Mary Anderson
Director, Student Affairs Case Management Services
Ana Bowens
Student Affairs Case Management Intake Coordinator
Please contact for Triton Concern Line inquiries only.
Jacqui Tejada
Student Affairs Case Manager
Andrew Hua
Student Affairs Case Manager and Outreach Specialist
Ben Wilson
Student Affairs Case Manager

Request a Training

Faculty and staff are encouraged to sign up for the "Supporting Students of Concern" training via UC Learning. If you'd like to request a training for your group or department, please fill out the Student Affairs Case Management Presentation Request Form.

Health and Well-being Syllabus Statement

In order to create a culture of care in your classroom, consider using this or a similar statement so that students understand the importance of well-being while striving for academic excellence.

Throughout your time at UC San Diego, you may experience a range of issues that can negatively impact your learning. These may include physical illness, housing or food insecurity, strained relationships, loss of motivation, depression, anxiety, high levels of stress, alcohol and drug problems, feeling down, interpersonal or sexual violence, or grief.

These concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance and affect your ability to participate in day-to-day activities. If there are issues related to coursework that are a source of particular stress or challenge, please speak with me, [Professor's Name], so that I am able to support you. UC San Diego provides a number of resources to all enrolled students, including:

We care about you at UC San Diego, and there is always help available.

Triton Concern Line

Report your concerns about distressed/ distressing students 24/7 to the Triton Concern Line


Resources for UC San Diego Students


Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides free, confidential psychological counseling and crisis services for UC San Diego students.



CARE at the Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC) provides free and confidential services for those impacted by sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking.


Student Health

Student Health Services (SHS) provides medical care and support from primary care physicians with specialties including gynecology and mental/ behavioral health.

SHS Home


The Hub Basic Needs Center provides essential resources required to thrive as a student, including access to food, housing, and financial wellness.

HUB Home

Privacy Laws and Confidentiality

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) permits communication about a student in distress under the following circumstances:

  • UC San Diego faculty and staff may disclose personally identifiable information from a student's educational record to appropriate individuals in connection with a health and safety emergency. Information may be released to police, parents, staff or others if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student or other individuals.
  • Information may be released to university personnel when there is a specific educational need to know and should be limited to the essentials of university business.
  • Observations of a student's conduct or statements made by a student are not considered "educational records," nor are they FERPA-protected. Such information should be shared with appropriate consideration for student privacy.

Note: Health records created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional acting or assisting in that capacity, are subject to HIPAA Privacy Rule's restrictions on use and disclosure and cannot be released to a third party without written consent from the student.