by Amy Ferrer
This post is part of a series of posts soliciting public comment on the APA’s new Good Practices Guide. In the first post in this series, I provided some background on how the APA Good Practices Guide came about and presented its preface and first section. For more on the guide and this series, go back and read that post.
In this last post of the series, I’m covering section 8 of the Good Practices Guide, titled “Mental and Emotional Health and Safety.” This section offers guidelines on how faculty and staff can support students as well as each other when issues of mental and emotional health arise.
The section begins with a discussion of these issues as they apply to students, noting that teachers—faculty as well as graduate student instructors—are often the people to whom students feel they can go when they are experiencing challenging times. In addition to offering suggestions of how departments can take steps to reduce stigma about mental and emotional health issues, the GPG recommends that departments provide at least general training for instructors about how to respond when students come to them with concerns about mental and emotional health, including mandatory reporting requirements and what campus resources are available to such students. The GPG also offers some suggestions for how to handle such interactions, and adds that if an instructor suspects a student may be in crisis, it is not inappropriate or a violation of privacy to proactively reach out to the student and/or appropriate campus offices.
The GPG then turns to issues of mental and emotional health for faculty and staff. Often, colleges and universities have special resources for faculty, whether through health insurance, campus wellness programs, or other avenues, and the GPG suggests that departments ensure that faculty and staff receive full and current information about those offerings, as well as about good practices and expectations when a colleague is or appears to be in a state of psychological distress. It also suggests that departments might encourage faculty and staff to participate in campus workshops to help them maintain emotional and mental health, such as trainings on stress management.
Finally, this section addresses traumatic events on campus, noting that while it is not the responsibility of departments or individual faculty to respond to incidents of violence, hate speech, etc., faculty are often in a unique position to help students process such incidents. The GPG points to research on how classroom discussion can help students and the broader campus community to deal with traumatic events.
And that brings us to the end of this series on the APA’s new Good Practices Guide. In addition to this series of discussions on the blog, we’ll also be holding feedback sessions at all three 2018 APA divisional meetings. Whether here or at one of those sessions, I hope you will offer your thoughts on the GPG in its current form. So, one last time, here are a few questions to consider, and I look forward to discussing them with you in the comments.
- Are there other good practices you’ve put to use to help protect and support your students’ mental and emotional health and safety?
- Does your department provide resources to faculty, staff, and students to support mental and emotional health? If so, what are they, and are there some that might be added to the GPG?
- Now that we’ve come to the end of the GPG, are there areas you think it should focus on more? Less? Are there sections you’d like to see added or revised? How do you see yourself and/or your department using this guide?
Amy Ferrer has been Executive Director of the APA since 2012.