Rogers State University’s faculty development committee hosted a panel to educate its campus community on students in crisis. The event was held virtually via Zoom on April 9.
“It is imperative to recognize and interact appropriately when a student is in crisis. Given the pandemic, mental health issues have been consistently on the rise. We want to ensure each employee is equipped with the toolkit necessary to intervene and advocate for their students,” Dr. Chrissy Whiting-Madison, assistant professor in the department of psychology and sociology, said.
Topics of discussion included how to assess student interactions, what to do when something isn’t right, who to contact for help and where to direct a student in need.
“As faculty and staff, we often find ourselves engaging with several students every day, and it is vital that we know how to assess student interactions, does the student need help connecting with the counseling center? Does the interaction rise to an Early Alert, or to a BIT report? Whatever the solution, we first need to understand how best to assess the situation in order to determine that next step, and how those systems work,” Whiting-Madison said.
The panelists included Dr. Robert Goltra, Vice President for Student Affairs at Rogers State University; Shameca Brown, founder and CEO of SKB Integrated Health Systems; Dominique White, Senior Associate Director for Access and Accommodation Services at Arkansas State University; and Shana Niccum, Care Coordinator with CREOKS Behavioral Health Services.
CREOKS is the largest non-profit mental health and substance abuse provider in Oklahoma. RSU’s partnership with CREOKS allows the campus counseling center to provide support to a great number of students while bringing student services in alignment with community partnerships.
Additionally, all RSU faculty and staff have access to Kognito’s At Risk for Faculty and Staff, an online conversation simulation, is a module that helps employees learn to discern signs of distress, use techniques to discuss concerns and if necessary, refer students to appropriate resources.
At Risk for Faculty and Staff allows employees to practice these challenging conversations at their own pace through role play with virtual students. In a national study of effectiveness, the simulation has been shown to increase student referrals. It is also listed in the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s Best Practice Registry and under review for inclusion the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.
“We all know when something seems off, or our students are not being themselves. This training will prepare faculty and staff for the next steps,” Whiting-Madison said.