Faculty/Staff Guide

Faculty/Staff Guide

The purpose of this guide is to provide faculty, staff, and administrators at Holy Family University with information about issues affecting our students, and how Counseling Services can be of assistance in these matters. Faculty and staff consultation requests for assistance from the Counseling Center have increased as the issues facing our students have grown in complexity. 

Available Online Training Opportunities

Please be aware of these online Mental Health Trainings and Referral Assistance to help you assist students in distress

Ask, Listen, Refer

Ask Listen Refer is a statewide online suicide prevention training program

Take this Suicide Prevention Training to better equip yourself in responding to student mental health crisis. The Ask, Listen, Refer Suicide Prevention Training Program is designed to help you recognize the risk factors and warning signs of suicide and respond appropriately.

This 15-20 minute interactive training program can be found at Ask, Listen, Refer. The purpose of this program is to encourage concerned persons to Ask if someone is thinking about suicide, Listen to their response carefully, and Refer them to a professional.

Through this program, you will learn about the prevalence of suicide among the college population, suicide warning signs, and sample conversations to guide you through this difficult time.

Tao Therapy Assistance Online

Tao Therapy Assistance Online

We believe in giving our campus community the tools and resources to take control of your wellness and achieve your goals. With the recent addition of TAO Connect, the Holy Family University Counseling Services Center, and campus partners have made this even more accessible! TAO includes over 150 brief, effective, educational sessions covering over 50 common topics and skills related to mental health, wellness, and substance use issues. TAO Includes interactive sessions, mindfulness exercises and practice tools all aimed at helping students achieve their goals. 

Our TAO page will explain more about how students can create an account. Please feel free to reach out to us for a consultation about how you can utilize this tool to promote health and wellness in your course. 

ThrivingCampus: Find Community Providers


Holy Family University has partnered with ThrivingCampus, to make it easier for you to connect with off-campus mental health care and well-being services. This online directory contains licensed mental health clinicians, many of whom specialize in working with students. You can browse and filter providers based on your needs and preferences.

Faculty/Staff Member: Your Role

One of the most common questions of faculty or staff is "How can I help?"  The faculty and staff at Holy Family University – frequently the first people contacted by students for assistance - are caring, compassionate individuals, motivated by the University mission "to foster a collegiate community that affirms the dignity of the human person and witnesses to a living Christian faith." In this spirit, many faculty and staff reach out to students to aid when it is requested.

Anyone who is perceived as trustworthy, knowledgeable, and caring becomes a potential resource to a troubled student. Your interest and concern may be an important component in helping a student to resolve the difficulties affecting their academic and personal progress. Many times, students find that they benefit from sharing their concerns with somebody who cares enough to listen.

When to Refer a Student

When Might a Student Benefit from a Referral to a Mental Health Professional/Counseling Center?

At different points in our lives, we all feel anger, sadness, and emotional pain - this is a normal part of living. It is important to recognize that one of these signs in isolation may not warrant referral to a mental health professional. Sometimes venting and talking about problems with someone who listens or helps with problem solving is enough.  However, a student experiencing more than the "normal" ups and downs of life and could benefit from additional help.

If you observe, or are informed, a student is experiencing behaviors, thoughts, and emotions that are interfering with their ability to perform life functions, have healthy relationships, or achieve their goals, you may want to reach out to the student to offer help and determine how best to support them – including referral to a mental health professional for treatment recommendations.

You are not expected to provide psychological counseling, make evaluations, or formulate a diagnosis; that is our work in the Counseling Center. However, you can serve as a bridge to us.

Suicidal Thoughts Chart

What Do I Say to the Student?

  • Request to see the student in private.
  • Create a safe space: This happens through validation, empathy (non-judgement), and active listening.
  • Validate the student’s feelings: what they are feeling is okay and you believe them.
  • Validation is not agreement. It is your acceptance and support for their feelings whether or not you agree with their point of view or behaviors.
  • Listen to what the student is troubled about and try to see the issue from his/her point of view without necessarily agreeing or disagreeing. Use reassurance genuinely but be careful not to overuse it.
  • Remember that empathy is different than sympathy. It involves putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and feeling what they feel.
  • Empathy can serve as a guide to help us know how to help someone else. Remember a time in your own life when you felt a similar way and what you would have liked to have from someone else .
  • Active listening implies simply that listening is an active process.  In other words, you are doing something when you are listening; and therefore, it involves attending, using silence when needed, paraphrasing, clarifying, summarizing, and reflecting.
  • Care through encouragement, helping actions, and maintain healthy boundaries
  • Express your appreciation to the student for being so open and explain that it takes courage to ask for help and express your struggles
  • Support this step they have taken in agreeing to speak with you and let them know they are doing a good thing for themselves
  • Use genuineness and kindness in expressing your concerns about what you have observed or been told: Acknowledge your observations and express your concerns directly and honestly (but without judgment or labeling)
  • Help them problem solve and explore options, solutions, and consequences related to their situation.     
  • Offer them help that you can give or feel comfortable giving related to your role in their lives/the university. 
  • Explain to them clearly why you are there and what you will be doing next.  Having information tends to make people feel safer. 
  • Involve yourself only as far as you can go in your role. At times, in an attempt to reach or help a troubled student, you may become more involved than time or skill permits. Be careful of this. On the otherhand, extending oneself to others often makes them feel safe enough to share vital information and may be what they need to get through this tough time.
  • Help them tolerate the distressing feelings by just being there with them through it as a calming, reassuring presence. 
  • **If in a crisis situation, speak calmly, be clear and direct, show compassion and care, and call the Counselor on call right away and other staff as necessary. 

**If in a crisis situation, speak calmly, be clear and direct, show compassion and care, and call the Counselor on call right away and other staff as necessary.

  • Ask them what skills they have and what they do to deal with tough situations. See if they can call upon those skills/behaviors/self-care strategies
  • Connect student with supportive resources both internal and external to the university
  • Tell them about services offered on campus that can help them
  • Help them utilize or find out more information about that resource
  • When appropriate, inform them or educate them about other external resources that may be helpful to their situation. 
  • Note: Sometimes students have not followed through on their own treatment or say that getting treatment made things worse. This is not uncommon and there are reasons they may feel this way. Validate the students feeling but also gently suggest they perhaps speak to their counselor, try again with another counselor if their first experience was not a good fit.
  • If they are willing, help them make an appointment online with the counseling center right then and there.
  • Let the Counseling Staff know the information and concern you have about the student. The information may provide valuable supporting information to the counselor who meets with the student. 
  • Report the incident up your chain of administrative command so there is a record of your conversation and concern.
  • If any of these symptoms are a violation of the student code of conduct, then procedures for reporting behavioral violations of conduct should also be followed.
  • Follow up with the Student and Continue to be aware of the student’s behaviors and if you become concerned again, repeat these steps as often as needed.
  • If the student is consistently concerning you, and is refusing to get help or is getting help but still exhibiting concerning behaviors, then consult with the Director of the Counseling Center and report your concern to the CARE team.
  • Also, follow up with your supervisor (chain of command) to let them know about your continued concern.

Note: If while speaking to the student, you become more concerned for the student or others safety due to the information being reported to you or your observations then call Public Safety and follow the detailed mental health emergency protocol that is outlined on this page. Remember that 911 and The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is Available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

Ultimately, individuals can refuse counseling except in certain emergencies involving a danger to self or others. When recommending a referral to the Counseling Center, let the student know that you have heard their concerns and think that your recommendation to speak with someone in the Counseling Center is your best judgment based on your own observations of the student’s behavior. Avoid generalizations and be specific about the behaviors that concern you. (For example, “I can see how upset you are by this situation. I am glad that you felt you could talk to me about this, as I am extremely concerned for you when you are saying you are drinking too much every night. I think you might find it helpful also to talk to someone with more experience in this area than I have. The Counseling Center is a resource on campus….”).

If the student is reluctant to accept a referral, offer your acceptance of those feelings. Perhaps offer the option for the student to think about it and get back to you in a day or so, in case they might want to "think it over." 

Can Someone in the Counseling Center Contact the Student?

One thing that can be helpful is contacting the Counseling Center, in advance of any meeting with a student, to get additional guidance related to how to speak to a particular student. All circumstances are slightly different and Counselors can consult with you and help coach you through speaking to the student about your concerns.

Since the student has some relationship to you, and you have direct information that has raised your concern for the student, it is more likely the student will feel comfortable speaking with you directly.

The Counseling Center does not reach out to students who have not contacted us first except when the student is experiencing a mental health emergency in which case the CARE team should be notified and with the help of the CARE team and you, the student will be contacted. The center functions best as a safe space for students to autonomously seek services on a voluntary basis.

Additionally, a Counselor has no authority to require that a student speak to us, keeping in mind that we cannot require anyone to come to us for assessment or counseling (except in a mental health emergency).

What Happens once a student books an appointment with the Counseling Center?

A student who comes to the Counseling Center will meet with one of the Counselors for an initial intake assessment session in which the Counselor and the student will begin to determine what help is needed and how best to assist the student. This may be simply one visit at the Counseling Center, counseling at the Counseling Center, referral to another campus office, or possibly an off campus referral for other types of intervention or more specialized longer-term treatment.


If you have referred a student for assistance, you are probably still concerned for that student and wondering how they are doing. Behavioral and mental health Counselors are held to higher standards than are other university employees who must abide by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Legal and ethical obligations prevent a Counselor from discussing a student's status with you. Counselors cannot even confirm or deny that a student has sought services! You may follow-up with the student and to ask the student if s/he followed through with your referral and went to the Counseling Center.

FERPA regulations prohibit you from revealing information about the student to anyone outside of the university. This includes parents and other agencies. As tempting as it may be, you should not be discussing the student with individuals or agencies outside of the university unless you have written permission from the student to Do so. Communications within the university should also be extremely limited to a "need to know" basis. You should not be revealing information about a student to other faculty, staff, coaches, or administrators unless there is a compelling reason to Do so, which is why so many faculty and staff seek consultation from the Counseling Center and/or Health Services. These two areas are completely confidential with which it is appropriate to discuss relevant concerns about a student. In any case, it is good practice to respect the student's privacy. If the student appears hesitant to discuss the issue with you after you have made a referral, this is fine. You may just wish to state that you wanted the student to know that you are concerned for their well-being and hope s/he is Doing better.


Counseling Center staff are available for consultation services for students, faculty, and staff. Consultations can focus on a concern for an individual student, behavior issues in the classroom, and on specific topics of concern (eating concerns, depression/anxiety, time management, how to address a student who is not completing assignments, etc.).The Counseling Center also runs workshops and groups covering many topics to which you can refer students. You may request a collaboration with our office by way of a mental health workshop or training. Please complete the Request for Training and Presentation Form.

References to Suicide

Any explicit or implied references to suicide that include specific thoughts of wanting to end their own life or details regarding how, when, or where the individual may be contemplating suicide should be immediately referred to Public Safety, the CARE team, and the Counseling Center for further assistance.

Any references to committing suicide should be considered serious. Sometimes these references are brushed off out of our own fear and discomfort or thoughts that perhaps the individual is merely seeking attention, but to Do so is extremely risky. A professional mental health worker is best trained to evaluate the severity of a suicide threat, thought, or gesture and should be consulted in such situations.

Mental Health Emergency Services for Surrounding Counties:

Detailed Mental Health Emergency Protocol for Faculty and Staff

1. Call Public Safety at 267-341-3333 to assist you with locating a counselor to assess the student right away and to add a level of safety and security during the crisis assessment/intervention.

When possible, gather information which you will share with Public Safety and the Counselor who assesses the student (e.g. student’s name, emergency contact person/info, details of the emergent situation, update on any action already taken, any known past mental health history including past treatment history related to the student that could be relevant).

If the student is off campus and not with you or Public Safety does not feel like the best option, then the local mental health emergency resources should be called to assist the student right away:

  • Call 911
  • Call The Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Contact Mental Health Crisis Services in their area and request a welfare check (Philadelphia Mental Health Delegates-215-685-6440)

2. Stay with the student to provide care.

You will be asked to consult with the counselor about the situation to collect information about your concern for the student and determine next steps. 

3. The student will likely speak with a counselor for an emergency mental health risk assessment. 

During business hours, 8am-4pm, they will be brought to the counseling center office in order to be assessed to determine next steps. Afterhours, they will be asked to speak to a counselor by phone. In some circumstances, the student may need to go to the hospital. 

If the student has ingested something or made any other action towards harming themselves (i.e. cut, burned, banged, any part of their body into something to harm themselves which has left a physical marking) then 911 should be called right away to have the student assessed medically as soon as possible. Then call the Counseling Center (267-341-3222) and Dean of Students/CARE Team (267-341-3204) to let them know what happened so they can follow up with the hospital. 

4. Follow Any Departmental Protocol such as notifying your supervisor, etc. and complete a report so that there is a record of the incident

5. Follow up with the CARE team to report the student as a concern

The CARE team/Dean of Students will also need to be notified of the situation that is unfolding to assist as a University representative, who is not a direct treatment provider, can also advocate on the student’s behalf and track the student following this incident. 

6. Keep the student on your radar and continue to support the student as needed  and connect them to resources.