Training and Education
How to Support Students In Distress
Recognizing Students in distress
Faculty, Family, Friends, or Staff members you are in an excellent position to recognize behavioral changes in your student. These behaviors are the action driven indirect way a student is asking for help. Your ability to notice a student in distress is a crucial skill necessary to ensuring all Bulls have access to success. It is the equivalent to noticing the clouds before the approaching storm. Here are a few indicators to watch out for.
Noticeable changes in personal hygiene, grooming, or attire
Changes in speech (slurred, rapid, or pressured)
Difficulty regulating emotions (rapid changes in mood)
Tearful, shakiness/tremors, panicked, pacing, fidgetiness, or agitation
Repeatedly demanding assistance or accommodations from faculty or staff
Multiple request for extensions
Acute intoxication or mentions of chronic ongoing substance abuse
Violence or aggression resulting in harm to property destruction or harm to self or other
The pandemic has altered the way many of us engage with students. Some of these indicators mentioned above might be challenging to notice virtually. Here are some distance learning indicators to look out for.
Suddenly submitting late assignments.
Responding to students in distress
The initial step in connecting with a student in distress can be difficult depending on your relationship with the student. Offering the student a private space to connect will allow the student to share more about what is going on. This small gesture could be as simple as;
"I notice [insert observation]. I care and want to ensure you have access to success here at USF"
Use your O.A.R.S. to paddle through the difficult waters of the students distress.
Share what is stress for you now?
How long have you been dealing with this?
You've done your best with what you knew.
You're handling a lot, thank you for coming yo me. I think I might know who can be of support.
It sounds like [content] has been [feeling] for you.
I can see how feeling [feeling] because [content]...
What I hear you saying is ....
What I understand you saying is .....
Offer to make a referral to SOS. If the student declines validate their wishes, but fall back on caring for their wellbeing and wanting to see them succeed. Reaffirm they belong here at USF. If you are a professor or staff member fall back on being a responsible employee. Let them know you have to report distressed students. Refer to USF Policy USF6.0163 "SOCAT Health and Wellness Interventions".
All reports made to SOS remain anonymous. While the student has to right to request their student record referral parties names and contact information will be redacted.