Mental health warning signs to watch for this semester

After months of uncertainty, students have returned to colleges and university campuses across the country. But that doesn’t mean the uncertainty is gone, and there are many reasons why the general stress in university life continues to grow, directly or indirectly, due to factors. Related to an epidemic. It took a long time to get away from the social clutter and the natural clutter of the college campus Increase in social anxiety For many young people. Some of them have had difficult events in their lives, such as the loss of a job or loved ones. And with the vastly changing and frequently changing rules regarding masks and vaccinations in universities and states, many students feel the added stress of confusion about their health and the health of their loved ones, as well as guidelines.

There are various reasons why many students advocate for their welfare and seek on-campus counseling services if needed. None of that, Even if they struggle. For this reason, it may be helpful for university professors and staff to look for potential warning signs indicating that a student may need help.

An epidemic problem

It is useful to first recognize that epidemics have caused and exacerbated a number of problems, yet this has not led to a completely new mental health crisis. Over the years, there has already been a significant increase in student mental health challenges across college campuses across the United States. In 2019, a full year before the outbreak, the American Psychological Association Informed of new research Young people between the ages of 18 and 25 have seen a dramatic increase in depression rates, with a 63 percent increase (8.1 percent to 13.2 percent) from 2009 to 2017. The same report also found that the proportion of suicidal thoughts or suicide-related outcomes among the same age group increased by 47 percent over the same period (7 percent to 10.3 percent). A study by San Diego State University found that moderate to severe anxiety rates among college students Almost double From 2013 to 2018.

Those of us who work in campus counseling centers are seeing these challenges firsthand. Between 2009 and 2015, the use of counseling centers increased across the country 30 to 40 percent on average During the same period, enrollment increased by only 5 percent. In 2019, Almost 90 percent According to a report by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, there has been an increase in the number of students seeking mental health care in counseling centers compared to the previous year.

Again, what this data shows is that there is a growing need for on-campus counseling services Before the epidemic, But the epidemic added to the stress levels of the students and It had a negative effect on their lives In various ways. Keeping in mind the broad context can help professors and staff appreciate the extent to which today’s students are experiencing.

Noticing signs of potential danger

Given this overall increase in student mental health challenges, teachers and staff can play an important role in maintaining the health and well-being of the student body. Because some students need help but don’t find it for a variety of reasons, teachers and staff (as well as students ’friends and family members) may be on the lookout for many danger signs that may indicate that students are struggling. Although the signs may be different, the basic similarity is that they are all behavioral changes that can be considered unusual or unexpected. Here are some examples of behavioral changes to keep an eye on:

  • Severe anxiety or panic
  • Significant decline in academic performance
  • Frequent absence from class
  • Social isolation and retreat
  • Dependence on advisors / professors / staff members
  • Low energy, lack of motivation
  • Changes in appetite, weight, personal hygiene
  • Increase in dangerous and / or unhealthy behaviors

The thing to keep in mind is that a change in behavior that can be interpreted as “positive” can indicate a problem if the change feels too sudden, unnatural, or extreme. Enthusiasm, a sudden increase in confidence or energy, and especially if it fluctuates, may indicate the presence of bipolar disorder or substance use disorder, for example. A student who is struggling with depression and suddenly and suddenly looks happy and relaxed may show that he is feeling relaxed after deciding to end his life.

To gain skills in detecting warning signs, professors and staff can receive mental health first aid training. They should also learn about campus emergency plans to engage the suicidal student with appropriate support and be aware of their duties to report Title IX issues.

The first line of defense

Generally speaking, teachers and staff are the ones who see students most often in addition to their friends and classmates. Thus you are one of the first to notice any of the warning signals mentioned above. If you notice something, you should definitely bring it to the attention of the student – but if possible in a private and quiet, relaxed environment (an empty classroom or a private office can work well for this purpose). This reduces any hesitation and makes the student less likely to be defensive or erratic. Express what you’ve noticed in an honest, careful, sensitive and non-judgmental way, and listen carefully to what they’re willing to share.

Although the role of the staff or faculty member is not to advise the student on their own, they can communicate some back-and-forth before being able to tell the student that they are struggling. In the process, be careful not to make any promises regarding privacy. It is not uncommon for students to admit that something is really happening but they will like to keep what they share confidential. A good response to such a request is, “I will try my best, but there are some situations that I have to report.”

If the student says they are OK, which is quite normal even if they have something going on you want to respect their answer. However, you can leave them with the knowledge that they have a campus counseling center and ask if they have a phone number if they want to talk to someone at any time in the future. Many colleges also have early warning systems, so if your intuition tells you that something is wrong with a student saying they are OK, it may be helpful to fill out an early alert form so that others who are connected to the student – such as academic advisors, mentors or life instructors – will also keep an eye. Can.

Finally, it is always helpful to eliminate and normalize the need for help in private conversations as well as in everyday contexts in the classroom and on campus. Students should be reminded that it is okay not to. Not all distressed students need or need counseling services, but it is always helpful to be reminded that gaining emotional support is a healthy and positive thing.

For persistent issues, students and staff can contact the Campus Counseling Center on how to help the student and connect them with support.

Prevention is better than reaction

One reason why it is important to look for mental health warning signs is that preventive action is more effective and ultimately easier on everyone involved than reacting when a student’s mental health challenge becomes serious. We know from research Interventions work To address the mental health challenges of students and enhance their social, educational and economic well-being. This is the turn, Helps their academic performance And helps them stay registered. On the contrary, it reduces Known negative consequences Mental health struggles on student welfare and academic performance.

The faculty and staff members had to face their own challenges throughout the period. If their students are showing signs of mental health danger, it is not a trivial matter to ask them to pay attention and pay attention. But when the benefits of doing so are weighed against the potential risks of not doing so, it becomes clear that helping to look after the well-being of students is in the best interests of everyone who is part of the college or university. Who has entrusted us.

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