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A Call For Help. Can You Hear Me? An educator’s guide to student mental health issues. Presenter: Vassilia Binensztok Stewart, M.S. Palm Beach State College.

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Presentation on theme: "A Call For Help. Can You Hear Me? An educator’s guide to student mental health issues. Presenter: Vassilia Binensztok Stewart, M.S. Palm Beach State College."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Call For Help. Can You Hear Me? An educator’s guide to student mental health issues. Presenter: Vassilia Binensztok Stewart, M.S. Palm Beach State College – Faculty Development Day 2015

2 It Affects Us All Disruptive and disturbing behaviors may be a sign that a student is in distress Students and faculty need help coping PBSC College-Wide Counseling Center 6 sessions per semester Free Confidential Exceptions Counselors on every campus

3 How Do You Feel? Worried Frustrated Angry Annoyed Confused Disappointed Guilty Anxious Ambivalent Helpless Burdened Burnt out How might you feel when faced with troubling student behavior? It’s normal to feel these things.

4 Signs To Look For Sporadic or decreased attendance Sullen, depressed mood Anxious, agitated, nervous, highly distracted behavior Suspicious, withdrawn, fearful behavior Missing deadlines and assignments Very unkempt, disheveled appearance; poor hygiene Coming to class under the influence

5 Signs To Look For Anger, yelling out, conflicts with other students Inappropriate/aggressive language Inappropriate behavior and communication in class Disclosing personal information inappropriately Overly dependent on professor They talk about being depressed, distressed, suicidal, etc.

6 What Does It Mean? These signs may indicate mental health issues, but should not be used to draw conclusions about a student. Only a mental health professional can make a diagnosis. So when does odd behavior cross the line and warrant concern? Can be a difficult line to draw Always best to consult

7 Problems Students May Face Depression Anxiety/Panic Substance Use Stress Jobs, money, family, relationships, school pressure, illness in family, difficulty adjusting Autism Spectrum Bullying

8 Problems Students May Face Trauma Child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, natural disasters, veterans Bereavement and Grief Gender and Sexuality Issues Eating Disorders Health Problems Bipolar Disorder Onset of Schizophrenia

9 Fact or Fiction? Emotional health of incoming freshmen is at its lowest point in three decades (American Freshmen Survey) 2014 Center for Collegiate Mental Health Annual Report (student mental health over the last 6 years, from 140 institutions) 1 in 2 has been in counseling 1 in 3 has taken psychiatric medication 1 in 4 has self-injured 1 in 3 has seriously considered suicide 1 in 3 has experienced a traumatic event 18.9% childhood physical abuse 45.9% childhood emotional abuse 27.2% sexual violence Most people with mental health issues are not dangerous or violent Can have symptoms with no disorder

10 Addressing Students Effectively Call the Counseling Center to consult (561) 868-3980 Ask to speak to the student in private Do not single the student out in front of others Be direct Acknowledge the situation and your observations; address their emotions Always better to ask than tell Listen and try to understand the student’s point of view Communicate your concern for their wellbeing, and that their health is a priority Treat the student with respect Avoid stigmatizing/labels Best not to question – Are you really that anxious? Avoid minimizing, i.e. telling them to “get over it,” “cheer up,” “snap out of it,” or that “everything will get better.” Do not scold or penalize the student

11 Addressing Students Effectively Refer the student to the Counseling Center 6 free and confidential sessions per semester Invite someone from the Counseling Center to give a presentation about our services As concerned as you may be, you cannot demand or mandate that a student goes to counseling. Be careful when giving advice Advice might not work for everyone; students may hold you responsible if advice fails They may become overly dependent They may not take your advice Students look up to you, depend on you, and are vulnerable You may need to find support to deal with your concerns and frustrations

12 Communicating Effectively “Student X, I have noticed that you seemed angry/upset, etc. I’m concerned about how you might be feeling. Is something going on?” Acknowledge your observation and concern Acknowledge your perception of their feelings Ask open-ended questions “How do you think this situation is affecting you?” If they are resistant, you can get them to acknowledge their behavior is a problem “What do you think might help?” Get them to acknowledge that they can get help “A good place to start might be the school counseling center. It is free and confidential. I really hope you go; your health is the most important thing.”

13 Classroom Disruptions If a student consistently disrupts the classroom environment Speak to the student privately to address the behavior Suggest alternative behavior (i.e. Please raise your hand if you have a question.) Consult with your department chair Consult with the counseling center Refer the student to the dean of student services

14 When Things Get Out Of Hand If a student is being violent or threatening Assess the situation Remain firm, calm, and understanding Do not yell at, argue with, or provoke the student Do not touch or try to physically restrain the student Refer to PBSC’s policies on in-class incidents If you feel threatened, call security Push the emergency call button

15 Scenario A student receives a failing grade on an exam. The student asks to talk to you about the grade after class. He asks if he can retake the exam, and you explain this is not possible because it would be unfair to the other students. The student then becomes agitated and yells, “You hate me! You want me to fail! I hate my life!” What would you do?

16 Scenario Response If the student is being physically threatening, contact security If the student is not threatening towards you, try to communicate your concerns to the student Remain calm; ask the student to calm down Tell the student that you would like to help him Ask the student if there is anything else going on that is contributing to his agitation If the student opens up, communicate to him that you understand why he is stressed out, that his wellbeing is a priority, that he is not alone, and there is help available Refer the student to the Counseling Center Call the Counseling Center to consult.

17 References Center for Collegiate Mental Health. (2015, January). 2014 Annual Report (Publication No. STA 15-30) Hoban, J; McIssac, Penny (2013, October 29). Distressed, Disturbing or Disruptive Behavior: What is Your Role?. Development Day. Lecture conducted from Palm Beach State College, Lake Worth, FL How to refer a student for counseling. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2015, from friends-faculty-staff/how-to-refer-a-student-for-counseling/ friends-faculty-staff/how-to-refer-a-student-for-counseling/ Incoming students' 'emotional health' at all-time low, survey says @insidehighered. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2015, from all-time-low-survey-says all-time-low-survey-says Responding to Distressed Students. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2015, from Tips for Faculty/Staff - How to Help Students. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2015, from

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