Crisis Information for Faculty and Staff 

What is a crisis? In the past, a crisis was typically defined as any situation where human life may be at risk. As our society has grown more complex, the definition of a crisis is now much broader. Generally, a crisis is now known as not only a situation, but a state of being for anyone who perceives his or her problem as needing attention without delay.


As you might imagine, this leaves faculty and staff in the position of making judgment calls when dealing with students and peers. Because of this, it is vitally important to understand what a crisis or a person in crisis typically presents with. It is also important to know your own limits of expertise and to listen to your ‘gut’ when you feel that you may be in over head when working with someone.


You can assist people who you feel may be experiencing crisis and refer them to appropriate sources of help. The following information is meant to provide you with some guidance in this process.
What to Look For
What You Can Do
Issues to Consider
How to Respond
What if I'm in Crisis?

What to Look For

Academic Indicators

Deterioration in quality of work

Missed assignments

A drop in grades

Repeated absences from work or classes

A negative change in classroom or workplace performance

Disorganized or erratic performance

Continual seeking of special accommodations (late projects or papers, extensions, postponed examinations, extensive sick days, etc.)


Personal/Interpersonal Indicators


Unprovoked anger or hostility

Excessive dependency

Expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness

Expressions of concern about a student in the class by his/her peers

A hunch or gut-level reaction that something is wrong or feeling fearful for your own safety

Direct statements indicating distress, family problems, or other difficulties

Exaggerated personality traits (e.g., more withdrawn or more animated than usual)


Physical Indicators

Deterioration in physical appearance

Visible changes in weight

Lack of personal hygiene

Excessive fatigue

Coming to work or class bleary-eyed, hung over, or smelling of alcohol

Appearing sick or ill


Safety/Risk Indicators

Any written note or verbal statement that has a sense of finality or a suicidal reference

Statements to the effect that the person is “going away for a long time”

Severe depression

Any history of suicidal thoughts or attempts

Giving away of prized possessions

Self-injurious or self-destructive behaviours

Any other behavior that seems out of control

Essays, e-mails, projects or papers that focus on despair, suicide, or death


What You Can Do

During normal working hours, you and/or the student may consult with a counsellor in Student Services. In Abbotsford, come to B214 or call 604 854-4528. In Chilliwack, come to the E Building or call 604 795-2808.

If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

If there is an immediate safety risk, call 911 or call UFV Campus Security at 7770 (Abbotsford) or 5051 (Chilliwack). 

After Hours Support
Persons in crisis after 4:30 p.m. or on weekends may call the  regional crisis line at 604 951-8855 or toll free 1-877-820-7444. This service is available 24 hours a day, every day.

Issues to Consider

Avoid making sweeping promises of confidentiality, particularly if a person represents a safety risk to him- or herself or others. Students, faculty or staff who may be a danger to themselves or others need swift professional intervention, and assurances of absolute confidentiality may get in the way.


It is acceptable to stay “in role” as a peer or staff member. You do not have to take on the role of counsellor. Your responsibility is to listen, watch and refer.


How to Respond

Listen. This will help the person to feel supported, and it will help you decide what should be done.


Decide if the student is in crisis. Ask them if you are not sure. If you feel that you are in over your head or if you are feeling uneasy or afraid, call for help. No professional will ever tell you that you shouldn’t have called for help; let someone with experience handle the situation.


Take the person seriously. No matter how trivial or unimportant the problem may seem to you, it is extremely important to the person “in crisis” and you need to take the problem seriously too.


Keep calm; even if what you are being told or see frightens or upsets you. The person in crisis needs a person who, upon seeing or hearing the problem, does not panic or reach the same emotional state as s/he is in. You must attempt to remain steady, calm, concerned and rational.


Stick with the person. Your physical presence, even if on the phone, and willingness to stay with them when they are vulnerable wil have a powerful mpact. Keep the person active-talking, walking, anything to keep the person involved in the problem and give you the opportunity to remain engaged with them while getting help.


Get Help. Do not try to handle the crisis alone. Always call for help: your Supervisor, a Counsellor, Campus Security, 911 or the Crisis Line.


Avoid interpretation. Crisis intervention is not the time for you to practice Lay Counselling or to attempt to help the person to solve the cause of the crisis.


Avoid arguing. You should not argue with the person about behaviours s/he may threaten. Doing so will just arouse anger and defensiveness.


Follow up. Your job is only done when the person in crisis is in the care of someone with professional knowledge and expertise. Even then, you will certainly see the person again on campus. Be friends, let them know that you are around if they need you, but don’t ask invasive questions. One person may feel embarrassed and not want to talk with you again, while another may feel very comfortable with you and may ask for help in other areas of their life. Be careful to stick within your own personal and professional boundaries here.

What if I'm in Crisis?
As a member of the UFV faculty or staff, you may experience personal issues or a crisis of your own. The Employee Assistance Program provides free, confidential counselling for employees and their dependents who are having problems at work or home.  



Contact Us
Counselling Services

B214, Abbotsford
604 854-4528

Chilliwack CEP Building A, Room A1318
604 795-2808

9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Monday to Friday

After Hours
Call the Crisis Line at
604 951-8855
or toll free
1-877 820-7444

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