You are not alone when it comes to helping a student in distress. There are a variety of resources on campus and in the community that can help you be an effective gatekeeper. Please use the resources below to support students with mental health-related issues.
Wellness concerns maintaining an overall quality of life and
the pursuit of optimal emotional, mental, and physical health. As part of
LaGuardia Community College’s HEALTHY
LIFE CHOICES CAMPAIGN, Health & Wellness Services has adopted the
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Eight
Dimensions of Wellness Holistic Guide as our model for educating the campus
community on topics related to health and wellness, and for encouraging
students to make healthy life choice decisions.
Emotional wellness is the ability to cope effectively with life experiences and appreciate both positive and negative feelings. This includes promoting self-care, a positive attitude, high self-esteem, a strong self-image, and creating satisfying relationships.
Intellectual (Academic) wellness is engaging in creative and stimulating mental activities that promote lifelong learning. Using the resources available to expand your knowledge, improve skills, and increase your potential.
Physical wellness is the ability to apply knowledge, motivation, commitment, behavior, self-management, attitude, and skills toward achieving personal fitness and health goals. This includes recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods and sleep.
Financial wellness is having a clear understanding of your financial situation and having the ability to manage money and live within your financial means.
Occupational wellness is personal satisfaction and professional enrichment through work. This includes choosing a role that is both stimulating and inherently rewarding, as well as one that is consistent with your beliefs, goals, lifestyle, personality and values.
Social wellness is the ability to develop a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system. A socially well person has a network of friends and family to they can turn to for support, validation and to share life experiences. These relationships are based on interdependence (rather than codependence), mutual trust and respect, equity of power and cultural competence.
Environmental wellness is the ability to develop healthy relationships, the ability to interact with others effectively, the ability to adapt to various social situations, and life challenges in your educational, personal, and professional environment. This includes good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support your well-being.
Spiritual wellness is developing a sense of purpose and meaning to life. This is accomplished by learning to experience healthy relationships that incorporate love, joy, and fulfillment.
The Wellness Center
Keep safety in mind. As you interact with a distressed student, maintain a safe distance. Trust your instinct. If danger to you or the student seems imminent, call Public Safety Ext. 5555.
Avoid escalation. Distressed students can sometimes be easy provoked. Avoid intimidating, threatening or humiliating responses. Refrain from asserting authority unless you are certain of the student's mental health status. Distressed students are in need of listening and support.
Ask direct questions. Take a calm and matter-of-fact approach. Ask student directly if they are under the influence, confused or if they have thoughts of harming themselves. Most distressed students are relieved to know that someone has noticed and is paying attention.
Ask open-ended questions. Encourage the student to go further into the subject, rather than simply give a yes/no answer (e.g., "Tell me more about. . .," "How have you been feeling since that happened to you?").
Check out your understanding of what the student is saying. In your own words, reflect back what they said.
Don't dismiss the student's perspective. What may seem like a temporary or insignificant issue to you may feel momentous and overwhelming to a student in distress. It may be helpful for you to reflect upon a time in your own life when you experienced something similar (remember when you had to juggle school, work and life?).
Avoid labeling the student or his/her behavior. For example, don't say "You're an alcoholic" or "You're high." Labels can anger the student and reduce the chances that they will acknowledge and address the problem. Maintain the professional nature of a relationship with your student and help him/her understand available options.
Acknowledge the student's courage to open up. Frame the decision to accept help as being a mature choice. Suggest that a willingness to accept assistance from others, including a counselor, indicates that the student is not running away from problems. Reinforce area, and indicate that speaking to a counselor is a positive and responsible thing to do.This is especially important to males, as men in our society are encouraged to be independent, keep feelings to themselves, and solve problems on their own.
Do not assume you are being manipulated. while it is true that some students appear distressed in order to get attention or relief from responsibility, only a thorough assessment can determine this. Attention-seekers can have serious problems and be in danger, too.
Know your limits. You will be able to assist many distressed students on your own by simply listening and referring them to the Wellness Center. Respect any feelings of discomfort you may have and focus on getting the student the help they need. Signs that you may be over-extending yourself include feeling stressed out or overwhelmed by the situation, feeling angry at or afraid of the student, and having thoughts of rescuing the student.
Respect the student's privacy. Confidentiality is important for trust, so you typically should not share with others what the student has shared with you. In situations involving a serious risk of harm to the person or someone else, don't promise to keep secrets.
Listed below are useful online and community resources that offer mental health and wellness services. Visit the Wellness Center (Room C249) for referrals and additional information.
RAINN provides live help for sexual assault victims and their friends and families. Free. Confidential. Secure.
Sometimes a student just needs someone to talk to. If the student’s problems extend beyond the need for just a “friendly listener” suggest that the student speak to a counselor at the Wellness Center (Room C249) at 718-482-5471, option 2 or WellnessCenter@lagcc.cuny.edu. If you think the student needs immediate attention, call the Wellness Center hotline Ext. 4444. If you think the student is a danger to themselves or others, call Public Safety at Ext. 5555.
The best place to refer the student is to Health Services Center (Room MB-40), 718-482-5280, Health-Center@lagcc.cuny.edu. A staff member can answer the student’s health questions and make the appropriate referral to a nurse or other resource.
If you have spoken with the student and the disruptive behavior continues, you may ask the student to leave the class. If the student is posing a threat to self and/or others or becomes physically and/or verbally abusive, call Public Safety at Ext. 5555 for assistance.
The College is dedicated to academic success and support through services such as individual tutoring, group tutoring, workshops, supplemental instruction, and academic counseling. Students having difficulty can receive academic help/tutoring in a variety of subject areas.
Ask the student if they have registered with the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD). If so, remind the student that they cannot receive accommodations unless requested and the faculty member has received notification directly from OSD.
If you need help deciding whether or not it is appropriate to make a referral, call the Wellness Center hotline Ext. 4444 to share your observations and concerns with a counselor.
No, FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) does not prevent you from talking to another College employee or office about a student in distress in order to assist the student or protect yourself/class from disruption or threat of violence.