Like post-secondary employees in their vocational work, all students experience difficulties from time to time in their academic programs. While many students are able to address these concerns as they emerge, other students continue to struggle. National College Health Assessment (NCHA) data indicate a gap between the number of students reporting mental health concerns and those who report having received mental health support. The longer these concerns persist, the more they impact student learning and mental health. Also, as their issues persist, students expend increasing amounts of time and energy trying to cope. It is important therefore, to build campus community capacity to support students earlier, before their concerns become more serious. Similarly, available assistance for other campus members under added duress trying to manage demands in their work can preempt exacerbation of their struggles.
Those who interact with students and faculty and staff members in the course of their day on campus are in the best position to notice early indications of concern. Therefore, early recognition requires everyone’s participation. Building this capacity involves increasing student, staff, and faculty ability to recognize early indications that a fellow member may be experiencing difficulty as well as indicators of more serious distress. It also involves building campus community members’ capacity to reach out to another and help connect them to appropriate resources and supports.