We often get asked what information a member of staff should send to a student who may be at risk, to let the student know about emergency and out-of-hours crisis support. As university counselling teams are not 24/7 services, it is vital all universities provide clear information on their website about how a student can access crisis support.
Below is an example of the kind of information that works for these purposes.
This information can be tailored to include the details of local services. However, remember your institution is likely to have distance learners, or students outside term-time, who require support in other parts of the country, so make sure that the information works well for these students too.
We recommend all universities publish information like this on a webpage with a memorable shortened URL/web address (e.g., to enable all staff to find it easily when they need to direct a student to it.
You can also 'cut and paste' this information and give a print-out, or email it, to an individual student. In our training sessions, we explore in more detail how to have these conversations with a student you are concerned about.
Sample text for university websites:
If you are a student who needs help right now:
Our university counselling & mental health support team is not an emergency service and not a 24/7 service. We offer appointments as quickly as we can to students who register with our team, but there is generally a waiting time to see us.
If you are a student who is concerned that you might harm yourself, you need to contact an emergency or crisis support service instead.
Below are details of the main emergency and crisis support services. Unless it says otherwise, these are open 24 hours a day, every day:
999 – You can always telephone 999 in an emergency.
Hospital – You can make your way to any hospital which has an Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department. It might help to ask someone to accompany you. This webpage will help you find your nearest hospital.
Samaritans – You can telephone Samaritans on 116 123 or send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you need a response immediately, it's best to call on the phone. This number is free to call, and you don’t have to be suicidal to call. Find out here whether you live near a Samaritans branch which you can visit to talk, face-to-face.
Your GP/medical practice – Contact the medical practice at which you are registered and ask for an urgent appointment.
Local crisis support service – You can also find local crisis support services on this site. If a health professional has already given you a Crisis Line number, call it.
Security – If you are on campus, your university may have a Security team that you can contact.
Your hall of residence – If you are in a hall of residence right now, you may have been given details of how to contact a duty member of staff out-of-hours.
Nightline – Your students’ union or university may support a nightline service - a student-run listening service which may in term-time during the evening or overnight. Find out whether your university is covered by a nightline here.
Please do not forget the importance of talking to someone you trust. Let family or friends know what's going on for you. They may be able to offer support and help keep you safe.
There's no right or wrong way to talk about suicidal feelings – starting the conversation is what's important.