Faculty: Talking with Students

When you have a concern about a student, you may need to talk to the student one-on-one before you refer them for other services. Or, students may come to talk to you about difficulties and seek help. This could seem overwhelming, but we have some easy tips for the best way to talk and help students.

When talking with a student:

  • Speak to the student in private. Whether you approach the student or the student reaches out to you, it is best to speak to the student in a private, safe space.
  • Give the student your undivided attention. Allow for enough time to talk to the student without distraction. This helps assure the student that you want to help and you care.
  • If you have concerns about the student, express them directly and non-judgmentally. For example, you might say that you have noticed that the student hasn’t been as engaged in class during discussions as usually.
  • Listen to the student. Being attentive to what the student has to say shows general interest and care.
  • Reflect back what the student has said to you. For example, if the students has been describing problems with their sleep, you might say, ‘It sounds like you’ve been having a lot of difficulty sleeping lately, and that has made it hard to concentrate in class.’
  • Ask questions. Use open-ended questions to clarify what the student is saying or seek additional information. Make sure your questions are non-judgment and not critical.
  • Offer hope to the student. There are many resources on campus and within the community to help the student. Below is a list of specific resources you can offer to the student.

If the student…

  • Is struggling academically: The Center for Learning offers tutoring services, resources on study skills, and the writing center.
  • Needs help with finding a major or career direction: The Center for Career and Calling has many professionals that can help students explore options for majors and careers, find jobs and internships, and gain experience mentoring other students.
  • Has financial aid problems: Student Financial Services can help the student manage loans, grants, and scholarships.
  • Needs help managing a disability: As part of the Center for Learning, Disability Support Services can help students with physical, medical, psychological, or learning disabilities. This includes arranging accommodations for accessible classrooms and housing, alternative format books and class materials, sign language interpreters, use of assistive technology, and note taker services.
  • Is struggling with health concerns: The Health Center is staffed by Nurse Practitioners who are available for primary care needs as well as Wellness visits at a reduced cost.
  • Is struggling with mental health concerns: The Student Counseling Center is available for students; staff can also provide outside referrals as necessary for students.

If you still have concerns about the student, you can contact the Student Support Team here.

Mindfulness- What is it?

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”


--Jon Kabat-Zinn

Often, we find ourselves thinking about the past or the future. Mindfulness is a self-awareness practice that emphasizes being aware of the present moment, without making judgments about what you notice. Research has shown that mindfulness can help people cope more effectively with stress, depression, anxiety, and health problems. Though we can all pay attention to the present moment for a short while, mindfulness is a specific skill that can be developed. Here are four simple ways you can bring mindfulness into activities of everyday life:

  • Focus your awareness on your breath while doing a routine activity. This is something that can be done at any time, such as waiting for someone to respond to your text message, listening to music, or getting dressed.
  • Take ten slow, deep breaths. Notice the sensations of your lungs filling and emptying, your ribcage rising and falling. Notice the thoughts and feelings passing through your mind and body. Observe them without judging them as good or bad, trying to change them, avoid them, or hold onto them. Notice what it is like to observe your thoughts and feelings with an attitude of acceptance.
  • Focus your awareness on a physical habit that has previously been outside of your conscious awareness. For example, when you are walking take notice of the feeling of each foot hitting the ground. Listen to the sounds around you, and notice the sights, big and small.
  • Silently put words to your thoughts, emotions, and sensations by noting or describing them. For example, if you notice you are feeling anxious before an important test, you can silently note “that’s anxiety.” Don’t judge them as good or bad, or try to change them; just observe what you are thinking and feeling.

 

If you would like to learn more about mindfulness, join us for Be Well: Mindful Yoga this spring. Details below!

 

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Suicide Prevention

The suicide rate among young adults ages 15-24 has triple since the 1950s, with 1 in 12 college students making a suicide plan at some point. It can be difficult to talk about suicide, but knowing common warning signs can help prevent suicide. Here are some of the most common signs of suicide among college students:

  • Withdrawal: A friend may withdraw from family and friends; they may talk to friends less or want to hang out less.
  • Changes in sleep and appetite: Someone may say that they are sleeping and eating a lot more or a lot less than normal.
  • Reckless behavior: The individual may act in ways that could be detrimental or dangerous and they may not seem to care about the consequences of their behavior.
  • Personality changes: You may notice that a friend’s normal behavior may shift from very laid back to irritable and short tempered.
  • Neglect of personal appearance: A friend may have unusual neglect of their personal appearance or lack of personal hygiene.
  • Physical pain: Someone may frequently express difficulty with physical symptoms, like headaches, stomachaches, and fatigue.
  • Substance abuse
  • Loss of interest: A friend may say they’ve lost interest in activities they normally enjoy or they may drop out of their normal activities, ignore class assignments, and miss classes.
  • Sudden mood changes: You may notice your friend expresses feelings of sadness, stress, and hopelessness.
  • Giving away belongings: A friend may give away some of their favorite possessions or throw away important belongings.

If you notice any of these signs in a friend, let an RA or faculty member know. In King County, there is a 24-hour Crisis Line available at (206) 461-3222 or you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

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BE WELL: MINDFUL YOGA

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Do Yoga | Learn Mindfulness | Be Well

THURSDAYS
7:15 PM
MOYER 3.0 LOUNGE

Be Well is a 4-week series of yoga classes that integrate mindfulness meditation. Each week, students will be led in a yoga class followed by a mindfulness practice. Students will also be provided with information about stress management and resources to develop a mindfulness meditation practice. Sign up at imleagues.com/spu, and bring your own yoga mat.
Session 1: April 7, 14, 21, & 28
Session 2: May 5, 12, 19, & 26

For further information please contact Karly Murphy at karlymary@spu.edu

Self-Care during Finals

Finals week can be one of the most stressful times of the semester. Eating, exercise, and sleep all have an impact on how we function-this is especially important during finals week. We want to make sure that you can keep yourself going.

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It’s essential to maintain balance and cover all areas of self-care: physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, personal, and professional. This wheel is not an exhaustive list of way to self-care; there are many more options that are right for you.

 

Why is self-care so important? In addition to breaking the cycle of stress, self-care helps us increase our positive feelings towards others and ourselves. It improves our confidence and self-esteem. Interpersonally, it helps us to establish boundaries with other people and keeps relationships healthier.

We hope you have a good finals week and a great spring break!

What is depression?

We’ve talked about what people think depression is or what having depression means, but what’s the real truth? This video talks about the actual symptoms of depression and how you can start to overcome them, or continue reading below:

What is depression? People experience depression symptoms differently, but for all individuals, depression affects day-to-day functioning. Depression also affects emotions, behaviors, and how you think.

Signs of depression include:

  • Feeling sad most of the day
  • Changes in appetite, resulting in weight loss or gain
  • Changes in sleep, either inability to fall asleep or sleeping too much
  • Feeling fatigued or increased loss of energy
  • Losing interest or pleasure in activities
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

 

If you think you might be depressed, you can contact the SPU Counseling Center for more information on treating depression or see your primary care physician. Even though it may seem difficult, it’s important to get help as soon as possible.

Misconceptions about Depression

Depression is a common mental illness, especially among college students. Around 44% of college students experience symptoms of depression at some point during their college time. However, there are also many misconceptions about depression that make it seem like having depression makes you a bad person or that you’ll never succeed in college.

Check out the video to learn about some common myths about depression, or continue reading:

Myth #1: Depression means that you’re just feeling down or sad- it’s not a big deal.

Truth: There’s a big difference between clinical depression and feeling sad AND clinical depression is a real and serious illness that greatly affects a person’s life. Depression can last from two weeks to several years, and in any form is a serious mental illness that needs treatment. For college students, depression may result in withdrawing from important friends or activities, having difficulty completing school work, and taking dangerous risks.

Myth #2: Depression is something you are stuck with and you can’t treat it.

Truth: It is possible to get effective help for clinical depression. You can seek out a range of possibilities, including therapy or medication.

Myth #3: Depressed people are lazy- they just need to pull themselves together and stop being depressed.

Truth: People who are clinically depressed can’t “snap out of it” anymore than someone with a medical illness can. There are some biological components to depression, such as an imbalance of certain brain chemicals. Without effective treatment, it would nearly impossible for someone to stop being depressed.

Myth #4: Only girls get depression.

Truth: Though women are more likely to admit to feeling depressed, there are many men who likely also have clinical depression. Sometimes it can be harder for men to talk about feelings and experiences that go along with clinical depression

Myth #5: The best treatment for depression is antidepressant medication.

Truth: Antidepressants are one form of effect treatment for clinical depression. For college students, a combination of antidepressants and therapy, or counseling, is likely to be most helpful. There are several types of therapy that have shown to be effective for treating depression.

Helping out our friends

College is stressful for everyone, but you aren’t in it alone. We want to be able to support our friends when they are having difficult times or are feeling stressed out. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out how to talk to friends when we notice there may be a problem. It can also be hard to tell when a friend needs extra support, from just developing better stress management skills or if the person is dealing with a more significant problem.

Some common signs that a friend might need help include:

  • Depression or sadness that interferes with obligations
  • Inability to cope with day-to-day problems
  • Extreme highs, shown by burst of energy, sleeplessness, or compulsive behavior
  • Severe and frequent anxiety and stress
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs

How do you respond?

Depending on your relationship with that person, you may be able to talk to the person one-on-one or you may want to let someone else know about the problem, like a professor or a resident assistant. Remember that you aren’t a therapist and you’re not responsible for solving your friend’s problems. However, you do want to be supportive of the person and encourage them to reach out to family, the counseling center, or another medical professional.

What do you say?

Try to be patient and supportive of your friend. Even if you don’t understand the problem, you can still be compassionate and listen. Here are some things you can say to a friend:

  • We all go through tough times.
  • You can feel better. Even though it doesn’t seem like it now, reaching out for help is a first step.
  • It’s ok to ask for help. There are many resources available on campus to provide support for students.

Stress and your mind

Keeping our stress in check is difficulty with the constant pressures of college. Sometimes stress can serve to motivate us, but too much stress for too long can have detrimental effects on our minds and our bodies. The video below explains how stress can be good- and bad.

 

There are ways to combat stress- some of these things we can integrate into our daily routine to help manage stress.

  • Time management. Plan ahead to make sure you’ve scheduled enough time for your schoolwork and other obligations.
  • Take one thing at a time. Deal with one urgent task at a time, and then move to the next. When overwhelmed, don’t try to do everything at once.
  • Be realistic. Know when you can’t handle anymore on your plate and don’t be afraid to saw no to new activities.
  • Taking 5 to 10 minutes a day for quiet reflection can bring some relief. After a stressful day, find a quiet place to breathe deeply for a few minutes or go for a walk to clear your mind.
  • Thirty minutes of physical activity per day helps both the body and mind.
  • Take a break. Sometimes it’s necessary to take a break and do something you enjoy.
  • Share your feelings. Don’t try to cope alone. Let family, friends, or someone on campus know you need support or guidance.

 

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