Resources For Staff

This guide is designed to assist/aid faculty and staff in recognising and intervening with students who are (or may be) experiencing emotional distress.

1. Faculty and Staff role

Many of us have fond memories during our college years. Yet, there were days where it might have been particularly stressful. Living away from family, being on your own for the first time, transitions to college life, financial worries, and trying to do well academically contribute to the stress piling up over a period of time. YaleNUS students also experience similar struggles. They are in the process of developing their own identities, life goals, relationships, and careers. However, stressors interfere with their academic performance, and developmental growth as independent adults.

Many students realize that stress is interfering with their personal and academic goals, and seek counselling services with the Counselling Centre. However, the remaining affected students may not be seeking counselling services. By virtue of the frequency and nature of your contact with students, and the respect students have for you are often seen by students as more logical first point of contact in obtaining advice and support.

More importantly, you (faculty and staff) are often in an excellent position to recognise and identify that a student may not be performing academically, and/or functioning emotionally well. You may observe that at certain times of the semester, particularly during assignment deadlines, examinations, and holidays, students experience increased anxiety. The student’s behaviour, especially if it is inconsistent with your experience of him/her, could well constitute an inarticulate struggle to draw attention to his/her plight, akin to a “cry for help.”

Hopefully, the information on this webpage will assist you in handling students who may be in need of counselling services from the Counselling Centre.

1.1 Recognising/Identifying Students in Distress

Often times it is very easy to identify students who are struggling, but there are times their distress is hidden. A referral for counselling can be made when you believe a student’s problems go beyond your experience and expertise, or when you feel uncomfortable helping a student with an issue. Here are some obvious, and not so obvious warning signs of distress.

    • Increased nervousness, agitation, irritability, undue aggressive, abrasive, or threatening behaviour
    • Chronic/excessive procrastination, indecisiveness, confusion
    • Decline in quality of work (poorly prepared work, little, late submission, or failure to turn in work)
    • Increase absences for classes
    • Illness (loss of health)
    • Depression (e.g. apathy, sad/upsetting expression)
    • Anxiety
    • Significant increase/decline in personal hygiene
    • Withdrawal, fearfulness
    • Dependency (e.g. student make excessive appointments with you; spending excessive amount of time hanging around you)
    • Bizarre, alarming, or dangerous behaviours
    • Unrealistic career goals
    • Alcohol, drug, and/or substance abuse/misuse
    • Inappropriate or bizarre conversation
    • Self-injurious/self-harming behaviour
    • Physical threat or harm to others
    • Death or serious illness of family member or friend
    • Relationship breakup
    • Parents’ divorce
    • Direct/indirect references to suicide or homicide (thoughts or threats of suicide or plans for suicide)
    • Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness
    • Preoccupation with death
    • Isolation from others

1.2 Guidelines for Interaction with Students in Distress

Although these symptoms may serve as warning signs that a student is in distress, most by themselves do not necessarily mean that a student has a serious problem that warrants psychological help. However, openly acknowledging to the students that you are aware of their distress, that you are sincerely concerned about their welfare, and that you are willing to help them explore their alternatives can have a meaningful effect. We encourage you whenever possible to speak directly to a student when you sense that he/she is in academic, and/or personal distress.

If you are unsure how to respond to a specific student, or require general advice/information related to student mental wellness, contact Counselling Centre at Suggestions/recommendations will be made for approaches you can take with the student.

2. Making a referral

The College is committed to assisting students with temporary or long-term mental health or wellness needs. If you feel that professional counselling might be beneficial, refer the student to the Counselling Centre. Be direct in letting the student know that you believe a counsellor/psychologist would be of help in this situation. Inform the student that the services from the Counselling Centre is both confidential, and free of charge. A mutual decision is best. Don’t force the issue if the student takes a defensive posture – simply restate your concerns and recommendations. If the student is receptive, you can use the referral form, or suggest that he/she makes an appointment at
However, if a student informs you about suicide or self-harm or harm to others, please contact that student’s Residential College Assistant Dean or Yale-NUS Counselling ( immediately.

You can identify the student’s Assistant Dean through the Residential College of the Student found in the Student Directory (

  • Assistant Dean, Saga College: Dr. Paul Gallagher
  • Assistant Dean, Elm College: Dr. Chew Suyin
  • Assistant Dean, Cendana College: Dr. Janelle Rahyns

A faculty member need not be anxious about a student’s privacy for the aforesaid situations; the priority is students’ safety. The relevant offices are expected to exercise due diligence and tact when following up with the student or students. However, if the Assistant Dean is not available, please call the Residential College’s duty phone:

  • Saga: 9338-3440
  • Elm: 9338-3449
  • Cendana: 9338-3452


3. 24/7 Student Emergency Information

The NUS Lifeline (6516-7777) is available 24/7 for all Yale-NUS staff or students who need support. This hotline is manned by professional counsellors who will be able to provide guidance if you are at a loss as to what to do with a student.

The contact for Yale-NUS Security is 6601-3696.
When there is an emergency on hand, dial 995 to call for an SCDF ambulance.