Faculty and staff provide support for students in a myriad of ways at Calvin University. The Center for Counseling and Wellness is here to equip and encourage you in your role, as you work alongside students day in and day out to promote their success and wellbeing. The resources here will guide you in responding to students in distress, as well as keep you up-to-date on faculty/staff training opportunities related to mental wellness on campus.
Are you a faculty or staff member who is concerned about the emotional wellbeing of a student? Resources exist across campus to support the student, and also to support you in responding effectively. While you are encouraged to stay within your assigned campus role, here are some guidelines when encountering emotional concerns during a student interaction. (Here is a condensed, printable version of these guidelines.) You are always welcome to contact the Center for Counseling and Wellness for consultation regarding a student situation.
Responding to emotional distress
If you see something, say something! Remain calm, and tune your response to the level of the distress displayed by a student.
How to talk about emotions
The most powerful treatment for emotional distress is a listening ear. Creating a safe, caring, supportive environment goes a long way in helping students calm emotions, focus thinking, and move forward. Here are some phrases that can be useful for listening well.
How to make a referral
When encouraging a student to schedule an appointment at the Center for Counseling and Wellness, approach the topic with compassion and understanding. Help to shape accurate expectations - the student will begin with a screening, and will leave that appointment with an action plan for engaging in the wellness services that will be most helpful to them (whether a group, a workshop, an online resource, a campus connection, or an individual follow-up appointment). Students are expected to make their own appointments at the Center for Counseling and Wellness, but you can support them by helping them make the initial phone call (616-526-6123) or complete the online appointment request form. You may also choose to submit a referral form to CCW staff ahead of time via confidential means, such as encrypted email or in-person delivery to office staff. Here are some phrases that can be useful for making a referral.
Suicide prevention training
QPR workshops provide participants with research-based suicide prevention training. QPR was developed to help you help someone who may be considering suicide. QPR focuses on three life-saving skills: Question, Persuade and Refer. Similar to CPR, QPR is easy to learn and may help save a life. This is a certification workshop developed by the QPR Institute for Suicide Prevention and is presented by Shayne McNichols, LMSW (Counselor and Outreach Coordinator).
QPR workshops include education, videos, and role plays. Each participant receives a booklet containing access to certification as well as to additional resources (including information on trauma, bullying, youth depression, bipolar disorder and research-based acute suicide warnings).Free for faculty/staff of Calvin University
- Thursday, October 14, 12–2 p.m.
- Wednesday, March 16, 3–5 p.m.
Suicide Prevention Resources are also available in the form of self-directed online training and forms, with the option to review these in collaboration with staff from the Center for Counseling and Wellness in the context of your department, staff team, or other campus group.
Mental health presentations
Counseling & Wellness staff are available to provide free presentations related to mental wellness in your class, department meeting, staff meeting, student organization or other Calvin University campus setting. Examples of potential topics include:
- Mental wellness resources on campus
- Managing stress effectively
- Self-care through the university years and beyond
- Suicide prevention
- Supporting a struggling friend
- Transitioning out of university
For faculty & staff
- Mental wellness resources on campus
- Responding to student distress
- Supporting emotional resilience
- Suicide prevention
Self-help resilience training in the classroom
The Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) program provides students with the tools to learn emotional resilience, including modules on stress, relaxation, communication, anxiety, depression, and many other relevant topics. Professors and staff can access the program at no charge, including the ability to assign content and monitor student completion through the gradebook feature. If you are a Calvin professor or staff member interested in utilizing TAO content with students, please contact the CCW office for instructions.
Including a brief mental health statement in course syllabi is a simple way for faculty to support student wellbeing and participate in suicide prevention. The primary goal of such a statement is to normalize help-seeking behavior, convey warmth, and share basic resource information. While you may want to modify this to fit your own style, here is one example of such a statement:
"It's okay to struggle! Students can experience a range of challenges that interfere with learning, such as concentration difficulties, stress (or anxiety), low motivation, relationship difficulties, depressed mood, or substance use. You are encouraged to care well for yourself by keeping a consistent sleep schedule, eating well, avoiding drugs and alcohol, exercising, and taking time to relax.
Also, learning how to ask for help is an important part of the college experience, and many people on campus are eager to support you. The Center for Counseling and Wellness sees one out of five students each year and can connect you with a variety of mental health resources on and off campus (www.calvin.edu/go/counseling). You can also reach out to me, another faculty/staff, a friend, or a family member you trust for help getting connected to support. You are not alone, and help is available!"
- How to Help a Student in a Mental-Health Crisis (Chronicle of Higher Education)
- Creating a Culture of Caring: Practical Approaches for College and University Faculty to Support Student Wellbeing and Mental Health (Active Minds)
- Be there for your students (Active Minds)