Faculty & Staff Resources

Creating a Culture of Care


Self-care is critical to maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself and your surroundings. Self-care includes any activity that promotes the wellbeing of your mind, body, or soul. Students often struggle to prioritize self-care due to feeling high pressure to accomplish as many things as possible, and tend to feel guilty for taking breaks from their studies and work. In reality, engaging in proper self-care helps students to have higher levels of motivation, increased focus, more positive attitudes, and higher levels of success and fulfillment. As you engage with your students, encourage them to regularly engage in self-care activities. Lead by example, and share with them how you prioritize self-care in your own life. You might even consider creating an assignment about self-care, or including weekly self-care activities in class discussions.

Learn more about self-care.

Quick Coherence Technique

Heart-centered deep breathing can help improve focus and concentration, increase self-regulation, and prepare the body and mind for what's ahead. Especially in times of high stress, taking a few moments to intentionally slow down and focus on becoming centered can make a huge difference in academic performance and personal life experience. Show this Quick Coherence Video at the start of your classes and meetings to practice heart-centered breathing with your students. If you are meeting with a student who feels stressed or is struggling, take a few minutes to watch the video together as a way to reset and approach the problem with a rejuvenated mindset.

Signs & Symptoms of a Student in Distress

Signs of a student in distress generally include changes in the areas of emotional expression, physical appearance, observable behaviors, and daily functioning, which may include: 

Academic Difficulties
  • Quality of academic work markedly inconsistent with previous work
  • Repeated requests for special consideration, such as incompletes or extensions
  • Infrequent class attendance with little or no work completed
  • Pattern of low grades
  • Falling asleep in class
Physical Signs
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene or other forms of self-care
  • Disheveled or fatigued appearance
  • Listlessness, lack of energy
  • Dramatic changes in weight
  • Unusual bruises or lacerations on face and/or body
Social Withdrawal
  • Withdrawal from peers, friends, and family
  • Avoidance of social interaction
Strange Behaviors and Impaired Thinking
  • Bizarre or strange behaviors that are obviously inappropriate to the situation
  • Incoherent speech
  • Delusional thinking, which involves beliefs that are outside of reality
  • Agitation, noticeable restlessness
  • Unusual difficulties making a decision
  • Other behaviors not typical of the student
Excessive Emotions
  • Intense anxiety
  • Irritability and anger
  • Depressed mood
  • Frequent tearfulness and crying spells
Threatening Statements and Behaviors
  • Expressed suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Threats to harm self or others
  • Threatening behaviors
  • Disruptive behaviors
Substance Abuse
  • Coming to class or meetings under the influence
  • Signs of excessive alcohol or drug use

How to Help a Student in Distress

If you are worried about a student’s emotional or mental wellbeing, you can make a positive impact in helping guide them towards needed support. What is most important for you is to approach the student in a calm, gentle manner that conveys genuine concern and a sincere desire to understand and assist. Active listening and simply being there is often most effective in assisting the student. Another key aspect of intervening is to determine how urgent the situation seems to be. If the student appears seriously disoriented or incoherent, or if the situation appears imminently life-threatening, please call 911 immediately and contact Campus Security. Here are some tips for effectively engaging with students who may be in distress:

  • Request to speak with the student privately
  • Briefly describe the behaviors or signs that concern you
  • Briefly describe your observations of their situation
  • Express your concerns directly and honestly
  • Listen carefully and attentively, avoiding interruptions and asking too many questions
  • Show genuine concern and interest
  • Reflect back the essence of what the student has told you
  • Avoid criticism or judgment
  • Ask about their current support systems, and validate any work, thought, or effort that they have already put in to examining or addressing the problem
  • Assist in identifying options and resources available to the student
  • Consider the Student Counseling Center as a resource and direct them towards the online Appointment Request Form located on the SCC home page
  • If the student resists help and you are worried, contact the Student Counseling Center or the Dean of Students Office to discuss your concerns. If this concern arises outside of normal business hours, contact Campus Security.

Employee Assistance Program

Just as you provide support to your students, it is also critical that you take care of your own wellbeing as a valued member of Jacksonville University. As an important benefit to your employment, you and your immediate family members have access to free, confidential counseling services to address personal and/or professional challenges that arise. JU provides this through the Health Advocate Employee Assistance Program (EAP). For more information, contact Health Advocate at 904-296-9436, toll free at 877-240-6863, or visit members.healthadvocate.com and type in Jacksonville University on the welcome page. If you have any questions about this benefit, contact the Office of People & Culture at 7025.

Learn more about the JU Employee Assistance Program.