Faculty & Staff
What role do faculty play in student mental health?
Faculty & staff are essential in creating a culture of care and concern where Mental Health Matters. As someone who interacts with students on a regular basis, you often get a unique and first glimpse of students who are struggling, and may be the first person students turn to for help. Consequently, faculty and staff members are in the pivotal position of identifying signs of distress and directing students to help.
What are some typical mental health issues that students face?
According to the 2015 National College Health Assessment of University of South Carolina students, students surveyed reported stress, anxiety, sleep difficulties and depression are among the top five impediments to their academic success. While most students face life stressors with no significant problems, a small but significant portion of students may experience mental health issues as a result of stress. For these students, stress may be more likely to interfere with personal, academic and career goals. For some, stress may even result in thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
What are some warning signs faculty & staff should be aware of?
Students experiencing stress or a sense of being overwhelmed may exhibit their problems in a variety of ways. While there is no “template” for identifying a concerning student, the following are some warning signs that may indicate distress or a significant emotional concern:
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawal from friends, family and society
- Inconsistencies with previous work; increase in poorly prepared work
- Infrequent class attendance
- Marked changes in personal hygiene
- Excessive weight gain or loss
- Comments that suggest thoughts about hopelessness or harming oneself
- Increased anger or class disturbances
- Inability to sleep or sleeping all the time
What should a faculty/staff member do if they suspect a student is in crisis?
Take all warning signs seriously. Most individuals who attempt or die by suicide give some warning of their intention. Here are some guidelines for interacting with a student you suspect is in crisis:
- Talk to the student in private.
- Express concern. Be as direct and specific as possible in stating your reasons for concern.
- Be available—show interest, understanding, and support.
- Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
- Ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide.
- Asking will not “put the idea” in their head.
- Refer to professional help
What campus resources can faculty & staff utilize to help students?
- Counseling & Psychiatry is available to provide consultation between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday thru Friday during the semester. Call 803-777-5223 and ask to speak with a counselor about a student of concern. Counselors have hours in the Center of Health and Well-Being on Sundays from 2- 8 p.m. After business hours, call University Law Enforcement and Safety at 803-777-4215 and communicate your concern. You can also complete a Behavioral Intervention Team Report at www.sa.sc.edu/bit
- The Behavioral Intervention Team responds to non-emergency concerns related to possible self-harm, erratic behavior or potentially threatening behavior: To complete a report or learn more: www.sa.sc.edu/bit or 803-777-4333
- Community Consultation and Intervention (CCI) provides advice on how to approach and support a student who appears to be struggling. Let us help you help them: www.sa.sc.edu/shs/cp/services/cci
- The Student Success Center provides many academic support services including peer tutoring and financial counseling: www.sc.edu/success
- The University Advising Center has many advising resources including Academic Success Coaching, advising and withdrawal support: www.sc.edu/advising/uac
- For emergency situations, call University Law Enforcement and Safety at 803-777-4215 and communicate your concern.
What resources are available to help faculty & staff deal with their own personal emotional issues?
- Deer Oaks Employee Assistance Program: www.deeroakseap.com offers a Comprehensive Employee Assistance Program, Work/Life and Health and Wellness Services to USC employees. This program offers a wide variety of counseling, referral and consultation services, which are all designed to assist you and your family in resolving work/life issues in order to live happier, healthier, more balanced lives. These services are completely confidential and can be easily accessed by calling the toll-free helpline. To find out about Deer Oaks’ wide range of free services (including legal and financial planning advice) – call 1-866-EAP-2400. For TTY/TDD Access: 1-800-735-2989.
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Learn more about faculty and staff wellness resources: