Faculty Senate Hears Report on Student Mental Health

Many resources are available to support student mental health, and faculty play an important role, Student Affairs officials say in report to Faculty Senate.

GW Professor Gate
December 13, 2021

The pandemic has exacerbated mental health concerns for college students across the country and created new barriers for many, George Washington University Student Affairs representatives told the Faculty Senate on Friday.

“We are seeing changing trends with students, mainly in the form of mental health needs significantly increasing,” said Jessica Parrillo, director of Counseling and Psychological Services, who presented to the senate with Colette Coleman, senior associate dean of students.

However, students nationally also are increasingly paying attention to mental health concerns and prioritizing self-care while reducing stigma around these issues, Dr. Parrillo added.

At GW, in addition to anxiety, depression, stress, and interpersonal issues, students are concerned about racial injustice, political unrest, and pandemic-driven isolation, loss, social readjustments and disappointment related to missed opportunities.

The CARE Team is an important resource on campus for faculty, staff or anyone who may be concerned about a student.  Individuals can submit a CARE Team referral form and the team will review the concern and identify the most appropriate outreach and services to provide the student, Ms. Coleman said. Also available are in-person and telehealth counseling options through Counseling and Psychological Services.

Ms. Coleman also suggested various ways faculty can help students manage stress and anxiety, such as adding a statement to syllabi to reiterate support resources, being available for office hours and after class, and being timely about reaching out to students of concern and finding support.

“These are some opportunities and ways you can connect with this particular population of students,” Ms. Coleman said.

Also Friday, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Christopher Bracey reminded faculty about the recent end-of-semester message he shared earlier in the week emphasizing the importance of continued empathy and support for students. The message and resources for faculty are available on the Provost’s Office website.

Professor Bracey also provided an update on shared governance, saying a steering committee is meeting and discussing a faculty survey and cadence of forthcoming meetings. The diversity, equity, and inclusion program review continues, with work underway to identify personnel needed to accomplish it.

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