In your professional role within the Univeristy it is likely that at some time, you will be faced with a student who is distressed or vulnerable. Understandably, this can be very daunting, and even disturbing at times. There are many causes of distress for students, and many ways in which they express it.
Student demand for wellbeing services has risen by a third by 2008 and UK Universities have reported seeing an overall increase in the number of students seeking support. Lecturers are often the first point of contact for students, particularly in the first term. But increased expectations on staff make it difficult to dedicate lots of time to students. There are however, some things that academics can do to make sure that struggling students don't become isolated or slip through the net.
We welcome discussions with academic staff who might have concerns about a student, staff are welcome to refer students onto student wellbeing with the students consent. Regular contact with personal tutors can really help students to feel connected to their course. Keeping an eye out for students who are frequently late, miss classes or appear to have changed over the time you have seen them are always worth checking in on.
We have produced a leaflet 'supporting students in distress' which offers guidelines on when to refer and how to support a student. This will be available in the next few weeks.
The Charlie Waller Trust are a trust set up by the family and friends of the late Charlie Waller who was a young man who unfortunately took his own life following his struggle with depression. They have produced an e-learning programme which is specifically designed to help staff recognise signs and symptoms a student is struggling and what you can do to support them. The e-learning programme can be found by clicking here.
Remember that sometimes a listening ear is all that is needed.