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Stress, depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, and other mental health challenges affect at least 1 in 5 college students*. Faculty can be an important source of support for UNL students. Here are some strategies for supporting student mental health:
1. Communicate the importance of mental health. Mental health is just as important as physical health. When someone breaks a leg they go to the hospital. Mental illness is the same thing. If someone is feeling depressed they should seek treatment. Normalize mental health by talking about getting support if you notice your students struggling with stress, depression, anxiety, etc.
2. Know the common stressors. College, while exciting, can also be a time of stress. Some common stressors for students are loneliness, divorce of parents, breakup of an intimate relationship, illness, rejection, academic pressure or failure, identity development, discrimination, low motivation, and time management.
3. Seek assistance from CAPS. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has psychologists and licensed mental health counselors who provide programs and services to UNL students as well as outreach and education for faculty and staff. If a student tells you that they are struggling or you notice a student is having problems, encourage them to call CAPS at 402-472-5000 (even after hours). If the situation is more urgent, you might decide to accompany the student to CAPS (located inside the University Health Center). If the situation is an emergency, call the UNL police at 402-472-2222. If you’re not sure what to do, call CAPS directly and ask to talk to the Director, Dr. Tricia Besett-Alesch, about your concerns.
4. Support your students. In some cases, mental health issues such as anxiety and depression qualify as disabilities, and students may receive individualized accommodation through Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) (232 Canfield Administration; 402-472-3787). SSD has a statement it suggests you include on your course syllabi, available at https://www.unl.edu/ssd/content/syllabus-statementfaculty.
Sources and Resources:
CAPS website: https://health.unl.edu/caps/services
SSD website: https://www.unl.edu/ssd/content/accommodations