Student Support and Early Intervention: The Early Assist Program

Sometimes you need support, but you're not sure where to go. Early Assist is here to help! Early Assist is a “one-stop shop” for all types of supports – personal or academic.

As a student, you can be referred to Early Assist by NIC staff or faculty, or you can reach out to the Early Assist Team by submitting a referral. Early Assist doesn't show up on your academic or financial records, and information you share is confidential and – unless safety is a concern – will not be shared with people outside of the Early Assist program without your consent.

At Early Assist, we will actively listen to what you are saying and connect you with the resources that meet your needs. Examples of Supports include:

  • Advising
  • Career Coaching Services
  • Counselling Services
  • Department for Accessible Learning Services
  • Elders-in-Residence
  • Emergency Financial Aid
  • Indigenous Education Navigators
  • Library & Learning Commons

To connect with Early Assist for support, submit a referral.

If you have any questions, email

For Urgent or Crisis Situations:

Call 911 if there is immediate risk of harm to yourself or others.

If you are concerned about suicidality, please contact Counselling Services at NIC.

  • Campbell River: 250-923-9700
  • Comox Valley: 250-334-5000
  • Port Alberni: 250-724-8711

If Counselling Services are not available or it is outside of regular office hours, call the Vancouver Island Crisis Line 1-888-494-3888.

Additional 24/7 supports include:

  • Vancouver Island Crisis Text: 250-800-3806
  • Here2Talk (connects students to mental health supports): 1-877-857-3397
  • KUU-US Crisis Line: 1-800-588-8717
  • Suicide Help Line: 1-800-784-2433

Early Assist Team

Hope Lewis
Hope Lewis
Sierra Gale
Sierra Gale

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Early Assist?

Being a student involves managing many responsibilities, like studies, work and family life. At NIC we know that getting you connected to supports early can increase your ability to sustain and improve your academic success and your overall well-being. With that in mind, Early Assist is here as a place of support to connect you with all types of resources - personal or academic.

When would a student use Early Assist?

As a student, we encourage you to reach out to Early Assist if you have concerns about your academic performance or your overall wellbeing, including your physical and mental health. Early Assist can connect you with a range of supports available at NIC or in the community.

When would staff or faculty use Early Assist?

Faculty and Staff at NIC are encouraged to reach out and offer support when they are concerned about a student’s academic performance and/or wellbeing. As a student, you might be referred to Early Assist by staff or faculty if they notice a change in the quality of your academic work, or if you stop attending classes regularly, or if you are showing signs of being in distress – our community cares about each other, and these referrals are sent because someone cares about you and wants you to get the help that you might need. With Early Assist, your privacy is protected - unless safety is a concern - because you aren't required to share personal information with anyone. Instead, a member of the Early Assist team will reach out to you and, with as much or as little information as you'd like to share, they will work with you to connect you with supports and resources that best suit your individual needs. There is a whole range of supports available to you here at NIC and in the community.

If you are a member of staff or faculty and would like to learn more about the Early Assist program, visit the Early Assist Referral - FAQs for frequently asked questions and answers.

What are some examples of supports?

NIC offers numerous supports including emergency financial aid, advocacy, Indigenous supports, counselling, academic advising, peer tutors, technical support, accommodations for temporary and permanent disability, and more. We also have access to community resources. The Early Assist team works with you to find the supports that meet your needs.

How does Early Assist work?

For students:

  1. Students can connect directly with the Early Assist team by submitting a referral.
  2. The Early Assist team will contact you to arrange a time to talk about your needs and appropriate supports.
  3. The information shared by you is confidential and - unless safety is a concern - will not be shared with people outside of the Early Assist program without your consent.

For faculty and staff:

  1. The first step for staff and faculty is to reach out to the student to find out more about their situation. If the student is willing to share a little more, faculty and staff may choose to provide the student with information about NIC support services, including the Early Assist program. A student may not be comfortable sharing, or they may not respond to the outreach from the staff or faculty member. In either situation, the staff or faculty member may decide to complete an online Early Assist referral form to connect the student directly with the Early Assist team.
  2. If the staff or faculty member does make an Early Assist referral, the Early Assist team asks them to please let the student know that they have made the referral, so that they are not surprised when they receive communication from the Early Assist team. If, for any reason, this isn’t possible, let the Early Assist team know within the referral that you have been unable to inform the student that you have made a referral.
  3. The Early Assist team will reach out to the student by email and/or telephone and provide them with an overview of supports available, as well as offer them the opportunity to meet with an Early Assist team member in person or online.
  4. Respecting the student’s right to privacy, staff/faculty who make a referral will only be informed that the referral has been received and outreach started. No other details will be released without consent from the student.

Does Early Assist affect academic records or decisions related to funding or academic processes?

No. Early Assist referrals will not appear on your academic or financial records.

How does Early Assist affect privacy?

Early Assist protects the student’s privacy by providing a secure way for academic or other concerns to be identified and responded to. Access to information collected through Early Assist is restricted to the team coordinating the information and providing outreach and is not shared outside the Early Assist program.

What if the student does not want to be a part of Early Assist?

Early Assist is an optional support for students, and you can decline the offer of support from the Early Assist program. If we reach out to you and do not hear back from you, we may try and contact you a few times just to make sure that you have received our messages and that you are okay.