There are people and services at the University of Saskatchewan to assist you in dealing with distressed faculty and staff. Common reasons for you to consult with these services include determining the seriousness of a situation and how quickly it needs to be addressed, as well as reviewing or developing a plan for responding. Faculty and staff in distress may not know the services available to them or may be hesitant to ask.

What to Look For


If you notice any behaviour that may be out of character or unusual, know that early intervention plays a key role in recovery from mental health challenges. Reach out to the colleague, talk to them or refer them to resources.


When a colleague has disclosed family or relationship problems or a health condition and is demonstrating a change in normal behavior such as attendance, productivity or engagement, difficulty sleeping, and/or increased interpersonal conflict.



If you notice prolonged changes in behaviour, or are concerned about your colleague’s safety or the safety of others, reach out to them. Ask how they are doing even if you don’t have the answers and refer them to resources. Showing care and support can be the most valuable thing you can do.


When a colleague is demonstrating such behavior as changes in personal appearance and hygiene, avoidance, expression of hopelessness, low mood, disorganized thinking, and/or substance use concerns.



If you feel a colleague is demonstrating behaviours in which they may pose a threat to themselves or others, call immediately.


When a colleague is demonstrating threatening behavior, violence, stalking or immediate danger that seriously disrupts the environment and put the safety of others at risk. 

Behaviours may include: 

  • WORRISOME: significant change in anti-social behaviour, baseline behaviour and/or appearance, suicidal ideation. 
  • HIGH RISK: aggression, verbal/written threat to kill/injure self or others, escalation in frequency and/or intensity of behavior. 
  • IMMEDIATE THREAT: homicidal/suicidal behaviours, plans for serious assault on a target, possession of weapons.

Trust your Instincts

Respond if a faculty or staff member situation leaves you feeling worried, alarmed or threatened. If you are unsure, please consult.

Responding to an Employee in Distress

Here are some tips if you are approaching an employee regarding concerns about their general well-being or they approach you.

  • Try to sit down with the person.
  • Express your concern about their well-being directly to the individual.
  • Listen carefully and stay calm as they describe the situation.
  • Ask questions to clarify whether you understand their specific needs.
  • Acknowledge their thoughts and feelings in a compassionate way.
  • Offer hope and reassure them that things can get better.
  • Do not make promises of confidentiality.
  • Discuss options and resources available.
  • Arrange a follow-up with the employee to show you care and determine whether the referral was effective.

Please make your personal safety the top priority. Use discretion on how to act depending on the individual circumstances.

Next Steps

Based on your role and relationships in the workplace following up may look different for each person.

Managers and Supervisors

If you have observed concerning changes in an employee’s behaviour, you have a legal duty to inquire. Reach out and express your concern.

It is important not to take on the role of counsellor and offer advice, diagnose or try to fix more serious problems. This should be handled by more qualified resources.

If you need support preparing for the conversation, contact Wellness Resources or the Employee and Family Assistance Program at 1-855-575-1740.


After you have had a conversation with your co-worker, and if you feel it is appropriate, ask then if they would be OK with you checking back with them soon.

It is important not to take on the role of counsellor and offer advice, diagnose or try to fix more serious problems. This should be handled by more qualified resources.

Check in with yourself and ensure that your own personal and emotional needs are being looked after as well. Remember, EFAP is available for you also.

Getting help

Wellness Resources

Administration Building, room E140
105 Administration Place
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A2

Employee and Family Assistance Program

USask's Employee and Family Assistance Program offers someone to talk to and resources to consult whenever and wherever you need.

Free and confidential support services include:

  • Confidential emotional support
  • Work-life solutions
  • Legal guidance
  • Financial resources
  • Physical health coaching 

1-855-575-1740 (toll-free)

Protective Services

University of Saskatchewan
129, 72 Campus Drive

(306) 966-5555 (24 Hours)