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  3. Mental Health Resources - For Faculty and Staff
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For life threatening emergencies call 911 or UWM Police 414-229-9911 (9-911 campus phone)

I am concerned about a student

When and how should I approach a student with concerns regarding their mental well-being?

Due to the frequency and nature of their interactions with students, UWM faculty and staff may be in a primary position to identify and intervene with students who are experiencing emotional distress.

While each student experiences emotional distress in a different way, some common indicators may include:

  • Infrequent class attendance and inadequate effort put into assignments
  • Lack of enthusiasm about various aspects of student life
  • Falling asleep in class
  • Lack of energy
  • Dependency (e.g. the student who hangs around your office or makes excessive appointments to see you)
  • Sadness, tearfulness
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene
  • High levels of irritability, including undue aggressive or abrasive behavior
  • Bizarre or strange behavior
  • Unusual bruises or lacerations on face and/or body
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Expressed suicidal thoughts or attempts

If you are worried about a student’s emotional well-being:

  • Find the right time and setting for your conversation, so that you both have time to talk and are able to do so privately and without distractions.
  • Briefly describe your observations of their situation.
  • Express your concerns directly and honestly.
  • Listen carefully without interrupting.
  • Reflect back what you are hearing without judgment or evaluation.
  • Ask about their current support systems, and validate any work, thought, or effort that they have already put in to examining or addressing the problem.
  • Offer to help them connect with available resources.

Further guidance regarding intervention strategies can be found in UWM’s Assisting the Emotionally Distressed Student guide.

What resources are available for UWM students who are experiencing issues related to emotional distress, and how can I help students connect with these services?

For life-threatening emergencies call 911 or UWM Police 414-229-9911 (9-911 campus phone)

In a non-emergency, but urgent situation (where there is a clear risk, but no evidence that suggests the student will be taking action at that moment), students may be referred to one of the following resources. If you are concerned that a student may not make the recommended connection, you may wish to call while the student is with you.

Campus Resources

Community Resources

  • Milwaukee County Crisis Line(24/7) – 1-414-257-7222
  • Columbia-St. Mary’s Emergency Services (24/7) – 414-291-1200
  • 24/7 Suicide Prevention Hotlines:
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7) – 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
      (TTY Accessible – 1-800-799-4TTY)
    • Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQ (24/7) – 1-866-488-7386
    • Veterans Crisis Line (24/7) – 1-800-273-TALK (8255), Press 1

College students who have a relationship with someone who prompts them to seek help are more likely to maintain positive attitudes and expectations regarding mental health care. Research reveals that approximately 75% of those college students who sought psychological help did so at the recommendation of someone else.1

More on Campus Resources- Norris Health Center

  • If you would like to ensure that a student connects with services, you may wish to call Norris Counseling and Consultation Services while the student is with you or offer to walk the student over to the Norris Health Center.

    Norris Health Center's Counseling Department offers confidential short-term services. These include individual counseling; couples or relationship counseling; alcohol and drug screening/counseling; eating disorder screening/counseling; crisis intervention; and psychiatry services. Students who are currently enrolled for class credits at UWM and have paid the student segregated fee are eligible for services at no cost. With the exception of urgent situations, students are encouraged to phone the Norris Health Center to make an appointment in advance. Norris Health Center can be reached at 414-229-4716.

    For students who have urgent needs that are not life threatening, brief screening sessions are provided to help stabilize the situation and determine what further services may be necessary. A Norris Health Center counselor is on-call from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm Monday through Thursday and from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm on Friday. An appointment is not necessary, but there may be a wait to be seen if the counselor is occupied with another student at the time of arrival.

What can I do if I suspect that a student is experiencing problems as a result of alcohol or other drug use?

Behaviors of concern may include:

  • Continued use despite repeatedly experiencing problems as a result, such as fights or arguments with family or friends; interference with school, work, and other important responsibilities; or taking risks or getting seriously injured while under the influence
  • Using alcohol or other drugs before class or work
  • Alcohol or other drug use becoming more important than anything else – such as school, work, friends, or family
  • Tendency to avoid events where substances will not be readily available or a propensity to consume quantities of alcohol or other drugs before attending these events
  • Increased tolerance and difficulty cutting down or controlling level of use
  • Becoming angry, defensive, or annoyed when their use of alcohol or other substances is discussed

If you are worried about a student’s substance use:

  • Express your observations and concerns in an open and nonjudgmental manner
  • Refer to ways in which their substance use might be impacting their quality of life or stand in conflict with their known personal values
  • Offer to help the student connect with available resources:
    • e-CHUG: An online alcohol assessment and personalized feedback tool. Visit www.e-CHUG.uwm.edu
    • Alcohol and your College Experience (ACE) Program: Alcohol skills class, brief screening, and personalized feedback session specifically designed for UWM students. Visit www4.uwm.edu/ace to register.
    • Evaluation and Treatment Services: Norris Health Center’s Counseling and Consultation Services provides alcohol and other drug screening, assessment, and treatment. Call 414-229-4716 to schedule an appointment.

While most college students who use or experience problems as a result of alcohol or other drugs are not necessarily at the point of being addicted to these substances, some may still display behaviors that cause individuals close to them to become concerned about their substance use. By saying something, you may help the student avoid consequences such as poor academic/job performance, unhealthy personal relationships, legal problems, and health concerns.

More about available resources:

  • e-CHUG: An anonymous online alcohol assessment that provides users with personalized feedback regarding their individual drinking patterns, experiences, and risk factors. Visit www.e-CHUG.uwm.edu
  • Alcohol and your College Experience (ACE) Program: Specifically designed for UWM students, the ACE Program offers education and strategies for individuals who are at-risk for experiencing or causing issues related to their personal alcohol use. The program includes a group alcohol skills class, brief screening, and individual feedback session. Visit www4.uwm.edu/ace to register.
  • Evaluation and Treatment Services: The Counseling and Consultation Services unit of Norris Health Center offers voluntary, short-term Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) evaluation and treatment services. These services include AODA assessments for students who have questions or concerns regarding their use of alcohol or other substances. For those students desiring treatment of an identified substance use problem, short-term weekly counseling sessions are also offered. For students whose substance use problems require intensive AODA services, referrals to community resources are provided. Norris does not offer medications designed specifically for drug detoxification or maintenance. Call Norris Health Center at 414-229-4716 to schedule an appointment.

What should I do if a student declines help or doesn’t want to seek counseling?

If you feel that the student is in immediate danger, call 911 or UWM Police 414-229-9911 (9-911 campus phone)

If a student is NOT acutely distressed or suicidal, you may want to:

  • Seek consultation from Norris Counseling and Consultation Services at 414-229-4716.
  • Discuss the situation with a colleague, supervisor, Department Head, or Dean.
  • Contact the Dean of Students office to discuss your concerns (414-229-4632 or (dos@uwm.edu) OR report you concern to the CARE Team at www.care.uwm.edu.
  • If the student lives in University Housing, contact the “Residential Professional Staff on Duty” (RPSOD). (click on READ MORE for specific phone numbers)

If a student is resistant to seeking assistance, try to identify the cause for their hesitation and correct any misperceptions that they may have regarding the availability of services and implications for obtaining help. Remind them that campus counseling services are free and confidential and that taking care of themselves is a smart, strong, and success-driven thing to do.

If a student remains resistant and is distressed but NOT acutely suicidal, you may want to:

  • Seek consultation from Norris Counseling and Consultation Services at 414-229-4716 to sort out the relevant issues and explore alternative approaches
  • Consult with others. Don’t worry alone about a student in distress. Discuss the situation with a colleague, supervisor, Department Head, or Dean
  • Contact the Dean of Students Office
    Call (414) 229-4632 or
    E-mail dos@uwm.edu or
    Report your concern to www.care.uwm.edu

    The Dean of Students Office (DOS) is able to assist students directly and also to guide faculty and staff in assisting students. DOS is a central repository for information about concerns related to students. This is an appropriate place to contact if you have concerns about a student's mental health. You do not need to explicitly tell the student that you are contacting the Dean of Students Office, nor do you have to be convinced that the student has a mental health problem. Rather, you can contact them if you have concerns and you think that others might too. DOS will coordinate concerns about students from various parties and works with several campus departments to determine how best to address the concerns. The Dean of Students Office may follow up with you to discuss your concerns further and/or to get more information to better determine a course of action.

    The Dean of Students Office is also knowledgeable regarding various resources on and off campus that may be helpful for students dealing with a variety of life circumstances (e.g., financial, academic, social, need for course withdrawals). Faculty and staff should not hesitate to contact DOS when they have concerns about a student's health and welfare. More information can be found on the DOS website regarding student support and the CARE Team at http://www4.uwm.edu/dos/

  • If the student lives in University Housing, contact the “Residential Professional Staff on Duty” (RPSOD) to alert housing staff about your concerns. Contact the RPSOD by calling the respective service desk in the residence hall where the student resides, and ask the service desk to contact the RPSOD.
    Service Desk phone numbers:

    • Sandburg: 414-229-6123
    • Cambridge Commons: 414-935-6900
    • RiverView: 414-229-3595
    • Kenilworth Square Apartments: 414-229-0512

    University Housing is committed to maintaining the physical and emotional well- being of residents:

    • University Housing staff members will typically follow-up with residents in cases where a concern for their mental health has been made known (whether originated by members of the community, staff members, parents and family members, or other sources).
    • University Housing staff members (sometimes assisted by the UWM Police) may perform wellness checks if a parent, friend, or other community member expresses concerns for a resident's well-being or safety.

What should I do if a student expresses the need or desire for academic accommodations because of mental health concerns?

Refer the student to the Accessibility Resource Center (formerly known as the Student Accessibility Center) at (414)229-6287 (Mitchell Hall Room 112).

Never unilaterally make an assumption about what academic accommodations a student may need, or initiate changes in academic expectations for a student, unless the decision is made jointly between the faculty/staff member, the student, and a professional with the pertinent skills to assess the situation (e.g. a mental health professional or ARC/SAC staff member).

How can I find out more information about assisting students with issues related to emotional distress?

For faculty and staff who would like to acquire or strengthen skills related to recognizing and responding to students in distress, UWM offers the Campus Connect Suicide Gatekeeper Training Program.

Designed specifically for university communities, the Campus Connect program seeks to develop a network of individuals within the campus community who are prepared to assist in identifying and supporting students in crisis and referring them to appropriate mental health resources.  The curriculum has been shown to improve participants' suicide intervention skills and is featured in the Suicide Prevention Resource Center's Best Practices Registry.

In addition, members of UWM’s Chancellor Advisory Committee on Mental Health have developed a Campus Connect Suicide Gatekeeper BOOSTER program. The BOOSTER program is designed to refresh the previously learned skills of Campus Connect trainees through round table discussions and to review strategies for assisting students in crisis and establishing boundaries when supporting students in crisis.

View the current schedule and register for an upcoming Campus connect or Booster training session

More background information about the Campus Connect program can be found here: http://counselingcenter.syr.edu/campus_connect/connect_overview.html

What are campus guidelines regarding working with emotionally distressed students?

I am concerned about my own mental health

How do I know if I need help?

Free online screenings for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and eating disorders are available for all members of the UWM community. These screenings are provided so that you may find out – privately, and in a few minutes –whether or not professional consultation may be helpful to you.

What resources are available for UWM faculty/staff who are experiencing issues related to emotional distress, and how can I connect with these services?

For immediate assistance, call Empathia LifeMatters at  (800) 634-6433 or access on-line information at http://www.mylifematters.com/  (UWM's "Company password" is SOWI)

UWM has contracted with Empathia LifeMatters to provide Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services for all permanent employees. Participation is voluntary, confidential, and free.

I am concerned about a UWM faculty or staff member

How do I know if a faculty or staff member is experiencing emotional distress?

While each person experiences emotional distress in a different way, some common indicators that you might observe include:

  • Persistent sad, empty, or anxious mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Excessive worrying
  • Sadness, tearfulness, or unusual/exaggerated emotional responses
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Feelings of fatigue or seeming “slowed down”
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Lack of enthusiasm about many aspects of their professional or personal life
  • Withdrawal from activities or friends
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering
  • Decline in personal hygiene
  • Inability to communicate – garbled, slurred, disjointed, or incoherent speech
  • Loss of contact with reality
  • Suicidal thoughts or intentions

How can I help a faculty or staff member who is experiencing distress?

If you are worried about a colleague’s emotional well-being:

  • Find the right time and setting for your conversation, so that you both have time to talk and are able to do so privately and without distractions.
  • Briefly describe your observations of their situation.
  • Express your concerns directly and honestly.
  • Listen carefully without interrupting.
  • Reflect back what you are hearing without judgment or evaluation.
  • Ask about their current support systems, and validate any work, thought, or effort that they have already put in to examining or addressing the problem.
  • Offer to help them connect with available resources.

What resources are available for UWM faculty/staff who are experiencing issues related to emotional distress, and how can I help faculty/staff connect with these services?

For immediate assistance, call Empathia LifeMatters at  (800) 634-6433 or access on-line information at http://www.mylifematters.com/  (UWM's "Company password" is SOWI)

UWM has contracted with Empathia LifeMatters to provide Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services for all permanent employees. Participation is voluntary, confidential, and free.

I want to learn more about students’ mental health needs

What is the scope and impact of mental health issues on our campus?

A significant number of UWM students report having experienced mental health issues that range from feeling overwhelmed to feeling sad, hopeless, or so depressed that it is difficult to function. Mental health issues can impact all aspects of a student’s physical, emotional, cognitive, and interpersonal functioning. These concerns also have the potential to impair a student’s academic performance and enrollment status.

Mental health issues are among UWM students’ primary health concerns. Indeed when asked to cite the health conditions that they had been diagnosed with, and treated for, in the past year, depression and anxiety disorders were among the top 4 responses provided.2

Moreover, a significant number of UWM students report having experienced mental health issues that range from feeling overwhelmed to feeling sad, hopeless, or so depressed that it is difficult to function. Specifically, when asked to indicate the mental health issues that they had experienced within the last 12 months, 86% of UWM students surveyed reported feeling overwhelmed, 63% reported feeling very sad, 55% reported feeling very lonely, and 47% reported feeling hopeless. Furthermore, 33% reported that they had felt so depressed that it was difficult to function, and 58% reported that they had felt overwhelming anxiety. Additionally, a percentage of UWM students also indicated experiencing issues related to suicidality, with 8% of students reporting that they had seriously contemplated suicide in the past 12 months, and >1% indicating that they had attempted suicide during this time.2

Mental health issues can impact all aspects of a student’s physical, emotional, cognitive, and interpersonal functioning. These concerns also have the potential to impair a student’s academic performance and enrollment status. For instance, in one sample of college students, depression was significantly associated with lower GPAs and a greater likelihood of dropping out of school, even when controlling for prior academic performance and other related variables.3 At UWM, stress, depression, and anxiety were among the top health factors that students believed had affected their academic performance in the past year.2

As an instructor, how can I protect our students’ emotional health, support campus prevention efforts, and increase awareness about mental health issues?

  • Strive to create meaningful connections with your students.
  • Help students develop life skills.
  • Develop course activities and assignments that foster social networks and encourage student connectedness to campus.
  • Include a statement on your course syllabus which reflects your desire to support students’ mental health.
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of emotional distress, and maintain knowledge of campus resources.

Strive to create meaningful connections with your students
University students who received intellectual, emotional, and/or career encouragement from a faculty member reported an enhanced sense of emotional well-being. In addition, the receipt of honest and individualized feedback from faculty was also associated with higher self-ratings of psychological health.4

Help students develop life skills
Life skills are psychosocial abilities – such as time management, budgeting, and relationship building – that enable individuals to cope with and meet the demands of everyday life. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) and the Jed Foundation’s research-based Model for Comprehensive Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention for Colleges and Universities identifies “developing life skills” as one of seven areas for strategic intervention that are essential to a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention and mental health promotion among college students.5 Providing students early assistance with life problems may prevent them from becoming acutely distressed and experiencing depression or anxiety at the level that would require treatment.

Develop course activities and assignments that foster social networks and encourage student connectedness to campus
College students with lower quality social support are more likely to experience higher rates of mental health problems, such as depressive symptoms.6 Moreover, school connectedness has been shown to have a strong negative correlation with both concurrent and future symptoms of depression and anxiety among adolescents, and participation in student organizations may serve as a protective factor in preventing suicidal ideation among college students.7,8

Include a statement on your course syllabus which reflects your desire to support students’ mental health
In addition to helping students feel supported and conveying your willingness to provide assistance, this statement can also strengthen students’ understanding of the relationship that exists between emotional health and academic success. In turn, this may increase help-seeking behaviors. Indeed, over 2/3 of college students have indicated that faculty members and course instructors are believable sources of health information.9

Be aware of signs and symptoms of emotional distress, and maintain knowledge of campus resources
Due to the frequency and nature of their interactions with students, UWM faculty and staff may be in a primary position to identify and intervene with students who are experiencing issues related to emotional distress. College students who have a relationship with someone who prompts them to seek help are more likely to maintain positive attitudes and expectations regarding mental health care.1

I want to stay mentally healthy

What can I do to stay mentally healthy?

What are some positive ways of coping with stress?

  • Work off stress by exercising.
  • Sleep and eat well.
  • Balance recreation and work.
  • Establish priorities.
  • Learn to accept what you can’t change.
  • Avoid “self-medicating” with alcohol or other drugs.
  • Talk about your worries with someone you trust.
  • Seek help when you need it.

Work off stress. If you’re upset, blow off steam through activities like walking, running, or other exercise. Physical activity provides an outlet for physical and mental stress, and regular exercise makes your body more able to deal with the effects of stress.

Sleep and eat well. Lack of sleep can lessen your capacity to deal with stress. Similarly, unhealthy or irregular eating habits interfere with your mood and ability to cope with stress.

Balance recreation and work. Over the course of a week, make sure that you are taking time to care for your academic, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual needs.

Establish priorities. If you are feeling overloaded, create a list and take on tasks one at a time.

Learn to accept what you can’t change. If a problem is beyond your control, try your best to accept it. Focus on things that you can do something about.

Avoid “self-medicating.” Alcohol and other drugs are not effective ways of coping with issues in your life that may be causing you worry or distress. Turning to substances in order to cope with stress or other emotional difficulties increases your risk for experiencing negative consequences as a result of your use.

Talk about your worries with someone you trust. Sometimes another person can help you see a new side to the problem and, thus, a new solution.

Seek help when you need it. If you are experiencing on-going stress or have experienced a life event or crisis that has increased stress in your life, resources are available to help. UWM has contracted with Empathia LifeMatters to provide Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services for all permanent employees. Participation is voluntary, confidential, and free. For immediate assistance call LifeMatters at (800) 634-6433 or access on-line information at http://www.mylifematters.com/ (UWM's "Company password" is SOWI).

For additional strategies, visit http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/live-your-life-well