Is someone you care about experiencing symptoms that are distressing or interfering with everyday functioning? Here are some resources tailored towards different individuals.
Helping Students in Distress: A Faculty/Staff Guide
Emotional distress is a normal part of college students’ experiences, whether related to academics, finances, relationships, or something else. Some students cope with little noticeable impact on their academics or social life, while others struggle to varying degrees. Due to your presence in their lives and the amount of interaction you have with students, you are in a good position to recognize those students who demonstrate distress. While it’s certainly impossible to notice and assist all of them, being observant and showing that you care can go a long way toward helping a struggling student.
We are happy to consult with you as you support students in addition to being a referral source for students.
What to look for:
- Significant shifts in behavior (i.e., drop in academic performance)
- Changes in personal hygiene
- Disruptive behavior
- Excessively anxious when called upon
- Avoiding participation
- Excessive absences/tardiness
- Heightened anxiety/worrying
- Pessimism about the future
- Dramatic weight gain/loss
- Unexplained crying
- Impaired speech or confused thoughts
What you can do:
- Invite your student to talk with them privately
- Show interest and concern
- Avoid criticism/judgment
- Consult with RIH staff (410-455-2542)
- Refer the student to RIH
- Go with the student to The Center for Well-Being
Parents, caregivers, and family members play an important role in the development and academic success of students. We recognize this role does not end once they enter college, regardless of their living situation, past achievements, or year in school. Students and caregivers typically feel both anxiety and excitement about the transition to, and navigation through, college. It is important to make a significant effort to keep the lines of support and communication open through the inevitable accomplishments and setbacks that your student is sure to experience.
Here are some ideas that may increase your chances of adding to your student’s college experience in a positive manner:
- Listen with an open mind; they are more likely to share when they feel accepted and loved
- Maintain a supportive relationship; be encouraging and let them know you are there when needed and will offer guidance when asked.
- Understand that college students are learning to be independent and will make mistakes; it is important to allow them the opportunities to navigate this process.
- Set realistic expectations; success in high school does not guarantee success in college.
- Keep in mind that students are much more likely to be successful when following their own interests, rather than yours or anyone else’s.
- Be specific about the extent to which you will/will not or can/cannot offer financial assistance, so your student is clear on this ahead of time.
- Encourage your students on to get involved in the classroom, on campus, and to explore new interests and make new friends.
- Keep the lines of communication open; make arrangements to talk regularly, with input from your student on the frequency.
- Make use of (or develop) your own support system separate from your student.
- Remember to take care of yourself as well; pursue your own interests and get involved in your own activities, especially those you may have been putting off.
If at any point during their academic career here at UMBC you are concerned about the well-being of your student, you can call RIH to consult with a clinical staff member at 410-455-2542.
Concerned about someone?
Sometimes we notice our friends struggling. As a concerned friend, you may want to help but might not feel like you know how. You can support your friend and make a real and important difference.
The following needs immediate attention:
- Talk of suicide or any actions related to harming oneself or others.
- Your friend leaves reality as most people know it. They might be hearing voices that no one else hears or seeing things that are not there. Sometimes, they may offer an elaborate theory that makes little sense.
Call University Police (410-455-5555) or 911 and stay with your friend until help arrives, or RIH (410-455-2542). Students may also utilize the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) or RIH after-hours support (410-455-3230).
You may notice your peers struggling with other concerns as well, such as:
- Feeling down and not functioning very well, if at all.
- Withdrawing from contact with others.
- Having excessive energy–seemingly great until they crash. This up and down is a recurring pattern.
- Using concerning amounts of alcohol or other drugs.
- Seeing your friend experience anxiety that it causes you alarm.
If you see any of the above or other behaviors that have you worried, it is important to act now.
Here is what you can do:
- Express concern: Tell your friend you are worried
- Listen to what they share
- Consider what additional resources or people would be helpful for them, given what they shared
- Retriever Integrated Health staff
- Residential Life including RAs or professional staff
- Office of Equity and Inclusion
- Women’s Center
- i3b – Initiatives for Identity, Inclusion & Belonging
- Visit RIH to help you manage worry about your friend and consult about managing your concern
Learn more about mental health support at the following websites: