Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) in Missouri is training its teachers to provide first aid to students struggling with their mental health, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the training, teachers will acquire the skills needed to address various mental health challenges to guide their students to get the help they need. They will also earn a mental health first aid responder certification.
Although these responders are not allowed to diagnose or treat students, they will be trained to understand symptoms of distress and how to counsel those having suicidal thoughts.
According to OTC Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Joan Barrett, the college is not expecting first aid responders to solve mental health issues but rather to recognize them in students and direct sufferers to the resources available on campus.
“It’s really important that they feel comfortable approaching a student,” she told KY3. ”So that’s why it’s so important that our faculty have that training and really be able to know how to support our students.”
Meanwhile, OTC Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Dr. Tracy McGrady explained that the training is essential for faculty because they interact with students the most.
Prevalence of Depression and Anxiety
Boston University (BU) conducted a study on 33,000 college students across the country regarding the effect of the ongoing health crisis on their mental health. Researchers found that half of these respondents have experienced depression and anxiety at some point during their studies.
According to BU mental health researcher Sarah Ketchen Lipson, study results underscore the need for universities and colleges to put mechanisms in place to accommodate students’ mental health needs.
She suggested that teachers should also be flexible with deadlines and remind students that their talent “is not solely demonstrated by their ability to get a top grade.”