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Helping faculty and staff in distress

Everyone plays an important role in creating healthy and respectful work environments.

Front page of the Orange Folder: Steps to assist colleagues in distress

Download the Orange Folder

A printable guide, designed for UBC faculty, staff and leaders who are looking to assist colleagues in distress.

Recognize signs of distress

In your role as a UBC faculty or staff member, you may be the first person to see signs that a colleague is in distress, or they may come to you specifically for help.  Use this information to familiarize yourself with common signs of distress, and the steps you can take to offer assistance.

Respond with concern and empathy

It’s okay to be uncertain about how to respond. You don’t need to have all the answers. Being there to support your colleagues is often the most valuable thing that you can do.

  • If possible, move to a discrete and appropriate environment.
  • Express concern and be specific about the signs and behaviours you’ve noticed (i.e. “I’ve noticed you don’t seem like yourself at work lately.”)
  • Listen actively, ask open-ended questions, and help them feel heard and understood

Refer your colleague to available resources

Your role is not to diagnose or treat, but you can share that confidential help is available. Early intervention plays a key role in creating healthy and respectful workplaces.

  • Help make them aware of the range of support services available (see below)

If a colleague does not want help:

  • Respect their decision. Accepting assistance must be left up to the individual, except in emergencies.
  • If they change their mind, they can access resources in the future.

Connect to resources

Managers and supervisors

If you’ve observed concerning changes in behaviour that is impacting the workplace, the university may have a legal “duty to inquire.” Before taking any further steps, please contact the appropriate resources for support.

You can also contact UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program for confidential People Manager Consultations: 1-866-424-0770 or explore UBC's Mental Health Tools and Resources for Manager, Heads and Deans.

Download the Orange Folder 

For questions, please contact efap.info@ubc.ca (UBC Vancouver) or Amanda Swoboda (UBC Okanagan).

Concerned about a student? Learn more about how to assist a student in distress.

In need of support for someone who has experienced sexual assault or other forms of sexual violence? Learn more about UBC’s Sexual Violence and Response (SVPRO) office.

Health & Wellbeing Disclaimer

The wellbeing information on this website is provided as information only and should not serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, or treatment from qualified physicians, mental health care providers, or other health care providers. External resources have been carefully selected but are not produced by UBC and UBC is not responsible for the content nor does UBC endorse products or services mentioned on these sites. Suggested links and resources are intended to educate but not to replace UBC policies, procedures or advice from health professionals.

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