Information for staff and faculty

Supporting Students in Distress

Often, Lakehead University faculty and staff will be the first ones to notice a concerning behaviour which may indicate a student is having difficulty and may need help. 

This guide outlines how to recognize when a student is in distress and how to respond effectively when a student approaches you looking for help.

Supporting Students in Distress Guide

Thunder Bay

Supporting Students in Distress Guide

Orillia

Embedding Wellness into the Classroom

 

Email Signature

Email signatures are regularly used to communicate information. Using your email signature to communicate your working hours can help to support your own work-life balance and create realistic expectations of response time for students.  Linking to the How to Ask for Help guide ensures that even if you do not immediately respond- students are still aware of the support and resources available to them and are encouraged to access them when needed. 

Suggested Signature line:

PLEASE NOTE MY WORK HOURS: I check and respond to emails during my working hours of Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. I will not regularly see or respond to emails outside of these hours.

Are you ok? Our How to ask for Help at Lakehead guide was made for you.

Need to talk to someone right now? Good 2 Talk is a free, confidential 24/7 post-secondary student helpline. Call 1-866-925-5454 or text GOOD2TALKON to 686868. 

Mental Health Syllabi Statement

A statement in the syllabus can send a positive signal of support for students' learning and well-being by including recommendations and encouragement for students to take care of themselves and seek help when they need it.  The statement might also be used to encourage classroom conversations about the stigma that keeps students from getting professional help.

Suggested Statement:

As a university student, you may sometimes experience mental health concerns or stressful events that interfere with your academic performance and negatively impact your daily activities. 

All of us can benefit from support during times of struggle. If you or anyone you know experiences academic stress, difficult life events or feelings of anxiety or depression, Student Health and Wellness is here to help. Their services are free for Lakehead Students and appointments are available. You can learn more about confidential mental health services available on and off campus at lakeheadu.ca/shw

Remember that getting help is a smart and courageous thing to do- for yourself, for those you care about, and for those who care about you.  Asking for support sooner rather than later is almost always helpful.

You could also choose to include this slide with the statement into your lecture slides. Student Health and Wellness can also provide a short presentation about the wellness services on campus.

Instructional Strategies
  • Create a positive and respectful environment. Explicitly communicate your intent to create an inclusive, accepting, and welcoming learning environment for all students. When teaching and addressing your students, try to use inclusive language (e.g., not making assumptions about your students’ background and life experiences). When students ask questions, listen and convey that you value their input. In general, model how you expect everyone to act in your courses.
  • Foster positive relationships with students. You can increase your approachability and social presence by using humour, addressing students by their names, and personalizing examples used in class. You can also invite students to drop by your office hours just to say hello to make office hours more informal. 
  • Build community among students. You can implement small group activities online, in your classes, or in tutorials, so students have the opportunity to meet and get to know each other. You can also encourage students to form their own study groups or partners. Be mindful that some students may be hesitant to verbally engage in group activities. In these cases, you can encourage them to participate by listening actively. Further, students who are uncomfortable discussing a specific topic may not need to participate.  
  • Foster a sense of belonging. Some students, especially in times of stress, may question whether they belong in their program or university environment in general. Emphasize that stressful academic experiences are normal, temporary, and can eventually be overcome. Avoid saying things like “This is easy” and “This is pretty straightforward”. Remember that what you find easy as a Teaching Assistant or instructor might be challenging for many undergraduates. 
  • Foster a growth mindset. Help your students see that their intelligence and abilities are malleable and changeable with effort and that failures are opportunities for learning. You can talk about your own challenges and failures as an undergraduate student as well as provide low-risk, low-stakes opportunities for students to fail (and learn from these failures) in your classes. You can also share Lakehead's Resiliency Project, which showcases stories from  LU faculty, students, staff, and alumni about struggles they've faced and their resiliency in managing these challenges.
  • Strive to reach all learners.  Using a variety of visuals, hands-on activities, group work, individual work, and other ways of presenting content or problems, helps all students to find a way to engage with the content. For further guidance, see The Teaching Common's Universal Course Design resources.
  • Give thoughtful and balanced feedback.  When giving verbal and written feedback on assignments and assessments, strike a balance between positive feedback (things you can celebrate with them) and constructive feedback (opportunities where they can improve).  Include some positive comments in your overall remarks to increase their motivation. Choose your words carefully – what you say matters a lot to students.  For further guidance, see the Teaching Commons Assessment and Testing section.

Information adapted from Supporting Students’ Mental Wellbeing: Instructional Strategies. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo.

Embedding Wellness Into the Virtual Classroom
Embedding wellness into the virtual class room title pageThis guide is designed to support faculty and instructors in maintaining their own health and well-being while also fostering health and well-being in virtual learning environments.
 
This resource is based on the “10 Ways to Embed Wellness in the Virtual Classroom” developed by Simon Fraser University’s Health Promotion department and has been adapted with updated resources and to include Lakehead specific information, resources and branded
materials.
 
For more information about well-being in the online environment, check out this resource from CICMH.
Enabling better student mental health through teaching and learning practices

Resources

More Feet on The Ground

This is a free online mental health education program that teaches participants to Recognize, Respond, and Refer individuals experiencing mental health problems on campus. The program was developed by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) in partnership with Brock University and the Ontario Government’s Mental Health Innovation Fund and has been adapted and branded for all participating post-secondary institutions across Ontario.

Training content:

  • Comprehensive information about common mental health and addiction concerns
  • Overview of signs/symptoms, treatment options, mental health stigma
  • Facts, statistics, and stories of lived experience
  • Campus and community resource information
  • Opportunity to receive a certificate following successful completion of a brief online assessment of learning

Training dates:

More Campus Mental Health Resources
Supporting Your Own Well-Being