Student crisis

Working with the Crisis Team

Gather information

To help the Crisis Team assess the situation as quickly as possible, try to gather as much information as you can, such as:

  • Student's name and student number
  • Student's location if they're not with you
  • Details of the incident
  • Student's address and phone number

But don't delay if you can't get this information: contact the Crisis Team as soon as you can.

What happens next

The Crisis Team will assess whether the situation needs a managed intervention. If so, they will manage the situation on the University's behalf, using their experience and contacts to:

  • Organise effective communications between the relevant support services, and where appropriate the student's family
  • Overcome challenges around transport, accommodation, language or faith 
  • Liaise with police, interpreters, chaplains and so on


Once your involvement with a crisis situation has ended, debrief by talking with:

Make a record of your concerns and inform others as appropriate, and always feel free to discuss with the Crisis Team.

Student in distress

Signs of distress

If there is no immediate risk to the student, or to others, then the situation is not urgent/a crisis.

However, the student may be:

  • Agitated or behaving erratically
  • Changing mood/behaviour
  • Panicky/incoherent
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Sad/miserable/tearful
  • Smelling of alcohol/cannabis
  • Very loud/disinhibited
  • Withdrawn/very quiet

Or you may notice a significant change in:

  • Appearance: weight change, decline in personal hygiene
  • Behaviour: staying in bed all day, handing in work late, not attending classes, avoiding going out

Possible causes of distress are listed below, with the recommended support service(s) for you to refer the student to in each case.

If there is no immediate risk to the student, or to others, then the situation is not urgent.

Find out below which support services can best help your student.

Or download: Helping Distressed Students: A Guide for University Staff (pdf)

Student has a health problem

Refer them to their GP

If they aren’t registered with a GP:

Student has a problem with addiction

Refer them to their GP

If they aren’t registered with a GP:

Student needs support for ongoing mental health problem

Refer them to the Disability Service

Student has experienced sexual violence or harassment

Student shows signs of an eating disorder

Refer them to their GP

If they aren’t registered with a GP:

Student is experiencing discrimination, harassment or bullying

Refer them to the SRC Advice Centre

Student has suffered a bereavement

Refer them to Counselling & Psychological Services

Or refer them to the Chaplaincy

International student?

If the student is from overseas and may need help arranging to get home, refer them to International Student Support.

Student is worried about academic matters

Refer them to their Adviser of Studies or their College Advising Office

Student has financial problems

Refer them to the SRC Advice Centre


Financial Aid Team

Student has a persistent study problem

Student has a problem related to being from overseas

Student is suffering from ill mental health and needs assistance

Student has an accommodation problem

For University accommodation, refer them to the management or Living Support Team in their accommodation

For private accommodation, refer them to the SRC Advice Centre

Student has needs relating to religion or spirituality

Refer them to the Interfaith Chaplaincy

Student needs to talk things though with someone


Student has a complaint

Refer them to the SRC Advice Centre

How to make a complaint

Student hasn't been seen for a period of time

In the event of a student that appears to be missing the following must be ascertained at an early stage:

  • The last date/time the student attended lectures or meetings and who with
  • The current contact details including: both home and University addresses, email addresses and phone numbers
  • The course that the student is studying.

If there is no answer on the student's mobile then the home phone number should be tried. If there is no response or a negative result then this should be escalated to the security team by phone: +44 (0) 141 330 4444 or email: security-main-campus@glasgow.ac.uk.

This will then be reviewed and then a decision will be made to contact Police Scotland if required.                      

Something else

I think a student needs help but they haven't asked for it

If there is no immediate risk to the student, or to others, then the situation is not urgent.

Possible causes

The student may be:

  • Bereaved
  • Generally depressed or anxious
  • Having unexplained study or money problems
  • Homesick, lonely and isolated
  • Having problems with relationships
  • Suffering from low self-esteem

If you suspect there is a problem but the student won't accept help:

  • Make it clear that you will help if the student changes their mind
  • Monitor the situation
  • Alert the student’s Adviser of Studies, or other relevant person, about continuing concerns

Student's parent is looking for them

'A parent of one of my students has called as they haven’t heard from them for a few weeks. They're concerned because this is out of character, and want me to let them know what's going on...'

State the following: 'If they are a student, I will pass on a message for them to contact you'.

This is all you can do, as it's against Data Protection legislation to give out any information without the student's consent.

We can neither confirm nor deny that someone is a student at the University, because to do so would divulge their personal information.

The student is an adult and may not want contact with the person who called you; the person may not even be their parent.

If the student doesn't respond to your message:

  • Make enquiries: find out whether the student has been going to classes
  • Ask their Adviser of Studies if they've heard anything

If the matter doesn’t resolve itself and you are concerned, contact the Crisis Team via Security.

  • Gilmorehill: ext 4444  (0141 330 4444)
  • Garscube: ext 2222  (0141 330 2222)
  • Off campus: 0141 330 4444


If you have any suggestions or questions about this page, please contact:

Karen Morton, Head of Student Support and Wellbeing
0141 330 4067