Information for Mercer Faculty and Staff
CAPS offers these following guidelines
Your role as a faculty or staff member at Mercer is crucial to students who may experience stress. These students perceive you as an individual who can provide support, a helping hand or just be there to hear what they have to say. By expressing interest in a distressed student, you become a critical figure in helping them find the appropriate assistance. Being that right person at the right time can mean everything to the student. Click on each heading below for more information.
Sometimes a student might come to you during a difficult time in their life. They may say things like:
- "I don't feel like living anymore," "I wish I were dead," or "no one would miss me if I was gone."
- "I feel like punching others when they make me mad"
- "I just found out that my parents are getting a divorce"
- "My boyfriend/girlfriend/partner just broke up with me"
- "I can't focus when I take a test or while I'm in class"
- "People are stressing me out!"
Although these are just a few of the uncountable things a student might disclose to you, remember you have a relationship with them that might be stronger than many others out there. You do not need to feel like you need to be their counselor, but making yourself available to the student can help them with their immediate needs.
Sometimes a student might not come directly to you to disclose a problem they are having. Maybe you are reviewing an assignment completed by a student and they disclose something unsettling. You might see a student's hygiene decline, class attendance become problematic, grades rapidly falling, or even bizarre or inappropriate behaviors appear in class. These might be signs of a bigger problem.
If you have a student that is experiencing a crisis or recently experienced a trauma, which is now causing the student to not be safe with him/herself or others, call MERPO or 911 immediately. The responders can intervene in the emergency situation and will follow the appropriate protocol to assist the student. Here are a few things to keep in mind with a student in this situation:
- Follow your department protocol (if present) for these types of situations
- Remain with the student until police/paramedics arrive, unless the environment and/or student is unsafe
- See if other faculty or staff are available to assist you during the situation
In most cases, you will find that when a student is presenting with some of the above thoughts and behaviors, they are not actively experiencing an emergency. Many times in these situations just being a present and active listener can help minimize the stress for the student. During your interaction with them you feel they need to talk to someone professionally for more support. In these cases, you have a variety of options:
- Make the phone call to CAPS with the student present, so that the student can schedule an appointment
- During business hours, you can walk the student over to the CAPS office to begin the appointment process (call first to confirm that there is a representative in the office available to help)
- Give the student CAPS's contact information for further assistance
- Follow up with the student a day or two after initial contact to see if you can be of further assistance to them
Remember, you always have access to CAPS representatives. If you call the offices and you do not get connected with a person immediately, determine the urgency of your inquiry. If it is something that you need immediate assistance with, please call Student Affairs at 301-2685 and discuss the situation with the Dean of Student's office (or as stated above, MERPO/911 if warranted). If your inquiry can wait, please leave a message for a CAPS staff member or contact us through e-mail. We will be in touch with you as soon as we can.
When talking with CAPS staff, please remember that we value our client's privacy. If the student you are concerned about is also a client at CAPS, the counselors can not share information about them with you, even if you know they are an active client with CAPS. If the student signs a release for us to disclose privileged information with you, then we will share necessary information to help assist the student.
We appreciate your dedication to the students of Mercer!
As always, please contact CAPS if you ever have questions about a situation, about our services, about where we are located or what a next step might be. If someone is in immediate danger, please call MERPO (Macon: 478-301-4357; Atlanta: 678-547-6358) or 911 for immediate assistance.