How to Support a Student: Faculty/Staff

Faculty and staff are in a unique position where they may notice a student’s struggles before others (e.g. absenteeism in the classroom, faltering grades, etc.). Faculty/staff are not expected to take on the role of a counselor. They can refer the student to their Commons Dean, Middlebury College Counseling, and/or the other resources identified on the Counseling website to help bridge the gap between a student’s struggles and the available support and services. If you feel that you have the relationship or rapport to start a conversation with the student, you can directly speak with the student and inquire about their hardships. If you choose to do so, please consider the following information:

  • Hold conversations in a private space
  • Listen attentively and give the student room to speak
  • Be supportive and positive
  • Point out specific signs that you have observed that support your concerns
  • Be upfront about concerns regarding suicidality and self-harm, it is important that we don’t beat around the bush with this topic; use words such as “suicide” and “self-harm” when having this discussion
  • Ask the student what support or help they desire and what they think they need in order to feel better
  • Provide whatever resources or referrals possible
  • Follow-up later and check-in to see how the person you care about is doing

Notifying a student’s Common’s Dean is also an appropriate step if directly speaking to the student does not seem warranted or appropriate. Simply providing the commons dean with a heads up regarding your concerns is a step toward creating a system of care around the student whom is displaying concerning behavior.

Faculty/staff have varying obligations in terms of what they are required to report. Please seek consultation from your Department Chairs regarding situations where reporting may be required.

Health Services
Centeno House
1st & 2nd Floor
Phone: 802.443.5135
Fax: 802.443.2066

Counseling
Centeno House
3rd Floor
Phone: 802.443.5141
Fax: 802.443.3407

Sports Medicine
Field House
Phone: 802.443.3636
Fax: 802.443.2094