Stop the Stigma- Faculty & Staff
College students often more likely to discuss their personal and emotional concerns with friends or professors than professionals. We are asking you to partner with us in this effort to support those in need. Together, we can make your student’s campus healthier, more productive, and a better learning environment.
Read below to find helpful information specific to your role. We thank you in advance for your commitment to our students!
Decreasing Stigma in your Classroom
Begin by reading this website! Educate yourself on college student mental health. Learn about Counseling Center resources : visit our website, visit our Center when you are on campus, call us and ask about our services., invite us to your classroom, complete QPR training (go.ncsu.edu/qpr), invite us to a staff meeting.
When talking with your student, you can….
Encourage interpersonal responsibility and coping skill development through teaching life skills including
- self-advocacy, help-seeking, problem solving skills, critical thinking, goal setting, financial skills & conflict resolution
Encourage exposure to Counseling Services
- Suggest to your students that they attend one of our outreach programs or support groups. Assign University support offices’ website review, online mental health screenings (go.ncsu.edu/counseling) and Counseling Center workshops for extra-credit. Invite us to come speak to your class!
Encourage and teach “bystander” interventions
- Stigma of being labeled mentally ill is only one barrier to help-seeking. It is quite likely that, if you are noticing another’s distress, they may not yet be receiving help. Keep in mind that no “ideal” interventions actually exist, and that saying anything at all is far better than saying nothing– or being a bystander.
- Talk about the value of self-care and mental health openly.
Reduce stigma for help seeking
- Offer compassion and discreet discussions regarding disclosures of emotional concerns, treatment, academic exception letters and DSO accommodation letters.
- In our work with students with disabilities, first generation college students, international student populations, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning students, and cultural/ethnic minority student populations, we are reminded that:
Confusion about FERPA and Confidentiality
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (also known as FERPA or the Buckley Amendment) lends federal protections to student records. Although there are many provisions in FERPA, perhaps the most common concern is the protection of “personally identifiable” information from records to university personnel or to outsiders. University faculty and staff often experience confusion regarding the scope and manner of such protections, preferring to keep information to themselves (or not get involved in the first place) to avoid reprimand. However, we should emphasize that FERPA protects student records that are directly related and maintained by the university. In most cases, classroom observations of a student, conversations, an e-mail exchange, notes kept for personal use, or other non-official information would not be considered part of a “student record”. University personnel are generally permitted and encouraged to share student information between university offices on a “need to know” basis.
It is important that you not guarantee “confidentiality” to a student, but rather assure them that you will only inform those on campus who can get them the help they need.
Documentation of Absences, Treatment or Hardship Factors
There is always a reason and a story behind an empty classroom seat. The Student Ombuds office, part of the Division of Academic and Student Affairs (DASA) can be helpful to faculty and students by serving as the University’s authority for verifying the situation(s) that may lead to or have resulted in a student’s absence.
- Instructors are encouraged to refer students to the Student Ombuds (919.515.3037; firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can work with them to obtain the needed documentation that explains the reason for class absences. This takes the pressure off the instructor to a certain extent and preserves that role of “instructor” rather than of “investigator.” In most cases the decision to consider an absence as excused is still the instructor’s, but that can be more confidently done with accurate understanding of the context and reason for the absence.
- Depending on the reason for the absence, the Student Ombuds may also refer students to on-campus resources for support and/or problem-solving. A student’s academic advisor is almost always included in any communication related to an advisee so that they can serve as a consistent collection point for awareness of patterns of concerns.
- Faculty and instructors are expected to be familiar with the University’s regulation on class attendance and its guidance regarding excused absences: http://policies.ncsu.edu/regulation/reg-02-20-03. The Student Ombuds welcomes any questions and is glad to talk through specific situations.
Self-Care for Faculty and Staff
The pressures of working at a University can be significant. However, neglecting self-care is a dangerous mistake. By being conscious and proactive about your stress-levels and well-being you can make significant positive impacts in your own life and the students you interact with. Take care of yourself if you want to keep doing what you are doing.When you feel emotionally and physically healthy, you are freer to be curious and engaged in your intellectual pursuits.
Self- care will only improve your work.
The connection between sleep and productivity is well documented, but there are many ways in which work/life balance can make you better at your job. Cultivating mindfulness and peace in your personal life can make you better able to handle situations that may arise at work.
Model a work-life balance for your students.
Take advantage of the resources on campus. Work out at the gym or take a break from the lab to stroll on the Rocky Branch Trail.
Self-care also means having good boundaries.
If there is a situation that takes you outside of your normal role as an employee it can be useful to consult with others about the appropriateness of the role. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, be able to say no and trust your gut.
Avoid increasing personal contact with students.
Limit e-mails, texting, social media and time outside the classroom to an academic focus. Our responsibility as a professionals is to model and teach appropriate boundaries and seek consultation as needed.
Self-care is also seeking help when we’re feeling stressed, anxious, or down.
Talk to coworkers and friends. Although it may seem there is pressure to look like you have everything together, the reality is people are sometimes anxious and frustrated. You don’t have to endure it alone.
Take advantage of the Faculty & Staff Assistance Program for confidential help anytime. This is provided by the University at no charge to you and they are capable of assisting in a wide array of circumstances. They can be reached at 866.467.0467.
Resources include: Violence Prevention and Threat Management Program/Risk Assessment Case Manager (919.513.4224 or 919.513.4315) and the Faculty & Staff Assistance Program (866.467.0467) for confidential help anytime. This is provided by the University at no charge to assist in a wide array of circumstances.