Keeping an eye out for troubled students
Every day thousands of students cross the threshold of UVU classrooms and interact with our amazing faculty. As I talk to faculty about what they see in their students, they say there is a continuum ranging from hope and energy all the way to desperation and chaos.
As educators we are trained to negotiate the higher areas of functioning on this spectrum — hope and enthusiasm are some of the tools we use to promote leaning. It is on the other end of the spectrum where we, as educators, can feel helpless and confused. Many of us have looked at a student and felt great concern. We have read papers or heard comments in class that seem to trip our inner alarms. How many of us have returned to our offices feeling major concern for the welfare of a student?
Frankly, there are holes in our training. How many of us remember the graduate school class that taught us how to deal with a suicidal student, or the theses we wrote regarding the red flags of disturbing writing? For many, psychological issues are like foreign languages for even the most experienced faculty, and can cause us considerable trepidation.
Student Health Services (SHS) can provide critical support to staff and faculty when our concern for a student is triggered. There are three services I would like to highlight briefly:
The “Concerned about a student?” website
This site discusses issues that may merit moving your concern on to the next level of administrative involvement. It also offers faculty resources that may be helpful, such as the tutorial on disturbing writing.
Consultation with a professional
Should the need arise, the “Concerned about a student?” link may result in a consultation with a mental health professional to develop a plan to address concerns about a certain student.
SHS can provide training to staff and faculty regarding issues like threat and violence de-escalation, red flags of suicide, and school threat assessment protocols.
It is our thinking that class preparation has taken on a more complex meaning in the current educational setting. We desire to offer the tools and resources to assist staff and faculty as they interact with an ever-changing student body.
— William Erb