Assisting Students in Need
Identifying a Problem
As a faculty or staff member working with students, you are in a position to notice when a student may be struggling. But it can be difficult at times to tell whether a student’s behavior (such as a change in grade performance or excessive absences) is indicative of a more serious problem, or to know what action to take to help the student. See Counseling and Psychological Services’ “Guide for Helping Students in Distress” for tips on recognizing students experiencing mild to severe stress and how you may provide assistance.
Assisting a Student in Need
General guidelines: If you choose to approach a student you are concerned about, or if a student reaches out to you, the U-M Psychological Clinic has a list of general guidelines that outlines effective strategies and “things to avoid” when assisting students in need.
Asking about health-related concerns: It can be tricky to figure out how to start a conversation about mental health with a student about whom you are concerned. Don’t hesitate to intervene because you are worried about saying the wrong thing. The University Health Service has created a guide for faculty and staff with tips for asking students about health concerns and information about referring students to resources as part of your usual conversation.
Referring to services: It is not your role to diagnose or provide therapy to students, but rather to help students to succeed. One of the best things you can do to help a student who is struggling with mental health concerns is to refer him/her to the appropriate resources. Visit our resource database to learn about services available to U-M students on campus and in the surrounding area.
Assisting graduate students: For faculty and staff working with graduate students, see the Rackham Graduate School guide, Managing Student Mental and Emotional Health Concerns: Considerations for Faculty and Staff Who Work with Graduate Students. This resource is intended to serve as a practical guide for use by department and program leadership in preparation for and in the management of situations involving students in need.
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