Faculty, staff, family, and friends are in a position to observe aspects of student lives that are not visible to others.
Are you noticing anything unusual or concerning about a student, such as the following:
- Decline in self-care (e.g., no longer eating, bathing)
- Failure to fulfill obligations (e.g., missing class, practice)
- Negatively affecting other students
- Changes in substance use
- Risk-taking behavior
- Indications of thoughts of harm to self and/or others
- Odd behaviors (e.g., talking to themselves, not making sense when speaking with others)
SuccessNow is a 24-hour consultation service available to all Middlebury faculty and staff through MiddTelehealth. If you have concerns about a student’s behavior—encompassing anything from general well-being, to how to approach a student who may be challenging in class, to fears that a student may be in danger of harming themself or others—SuccessNow offers a prompt and confidential way to get expert guidance from trained mental health professionals.
What You Can Do
If you think a student is in distress, reach out to them. This is often the first and best step toward helping an individual seek support and feel better. It sends a clear message to the person of concern that people care about their health and safety. Try to be empathetic and understanding and consider the following guidelines:
- Hold conversations in a private space.
- Listen attentively and give them room to speak.
- Be supportive.
- Point out specific signs that you have observed that support your concerns.
- Be upfront about concerns regarding suicide and self-harm, it is important that we don’t beat around the bush with this topic; use words such as “suicide” and “self-harm” when having this discussion.
- Ask them what support or help they desire and what they think they need in order to feel better.
- Provide resources or referrals.
- Follow-up later and check-in to see how the person is doing.
If a student is displaying concerning behavior, do not hesitate to consult with peers, colleagues, Student Life Deans, and our staff at Counseling. Consultation with Counseling can be confidential and anonymous.
Some situations may warrant a higher level of action. If you are concerned about a student’s safety, contact their residential support (e.g. Commons Residential Director, Student Life Dean). You can also call Public Safety’s emergency line (802-443-5911) or go to Porter Emergency Room.
Your Own Self-Care
Remember to take care of yourself. Holding conversations with and caring for someone who is in distress can be a difficult task. Take time to do what you need to make sure that you remain healthy. After all, you cannot fully care for someone else unless you take care of yourself. Don’t forget that there are other individuals on campus who can help support the student. It is not your role to solve the student’s problems, rather, you can help provide the resources to enable them to help themselves.