A Guide for Faculty and Staff (Download Helping Students)
Students Who Encounter Significant Challenges
Students encounter challenges for a variety of reasons. Academics, family problems, social situations, work, and financial concerns are just some of the sources of stress. While most students cope successfully with the demands of college life, for some the pressures become overwhelming and unmanageable. Mental health problems takes many different forms and varies greatly in severity, from short-term depression or anxiety triggered by some personal setbacks, to self-harm, to long term psychiatric illness. Students experience the same types of problems as the general population, however research suggests they are more prone to anxiety and depression than similar age groups in the general population.
What are the signs?
- A sudden deterioration in academic performance or motivation.
- Persistent lateness for, or absences from class withdrawal from social, cultural or sporting activities once considered important.
- An obsessional attitude to work and/or an unrealistic preoccupation with failure.
- Mood swings and irritability.
- Difficulty in sleeping.
- Misuse of alcohol or drugs.
- Changes in appearance: unkempt, weight change, decline in personal hygiene.
What to do if you are worried about a student?
- Think carefully beforehand about what you can and/or cannot do.
- Consider whether there might be a conflict with any of your other responsibilities( being mindful of issues of confidentiality).
- Be prepared to limit your involvement e.g.; “I can help you with the academic side but you need to seek expert advice from your doctor or..”
- Refer them to Psychological Services.
- Student can access 8 free sessions of psychological intervention and receive community referrals.
What if they Refuse help?
- Reassure them that anything said to a doctor, therapist or religious leader will remain confidential.
- Point out the consequences of not seeking help; that the problem will not go away by itself and that academic performance could continue to suffer.
- Consult with your colleagues, Chair, or Dean.
How to Refer to Psychological Services.
Students can access free psychological services on campus. The Psychological Services office is located in the Student Center Building (bookstore) on the Second floor in Room 216. Office numbers are ext. 8687, 8687, 8694, 8695, or 8696. Students can be referred to the offices or escorted over to fill out a request for services form, or you can download one here Request for Services
What to do if it’s a Crisis.
The safety of the student and of those around them has to be the prime consideration, and it is important (again) to error on the side of caution.
If there is a risk of physical harm, it is acceptable to breach confidentiality (although, depending on the circumstances, it may be helpful to tell the student what you have decided to do, “ I am worried about you, I’m calling someone that can help keep you safe).
*If you remain concerned about the student, or if a student threatens to harm themselves or others, and their behavior suggests they will carry this out, you should call Campus Police ext. 8201 who can activate the crisis team. The College Crisis team has the expertise and knowledge that is required in the management of major crises.
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