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Faculty and staff guide for helping students in distress

Aerial view of Pullman campus
Picture of WSU Pullman campus on a sunny day

Faculty and staff are often able to recognize when a student is struggling, but it can be hard to know what to say or do.

To ensure students get the support they need, Student Affairs created a comprehensive guide that faculty and staff can reference when they’re concerned about a student.

The guide covers how to recognize common signs of distress, helpful ways to respond to a student, campus and community support resources, and reporting options.

Each WSU location has a guide with specific campus and community resources. View the guide for your WSU location below:

Reasons to Practice Mindfulness

English transcription below.

Reasons to Practice Mindfulness

What if we cared for our mind 20 minutes everyday?

How Stress Affects Mental Health

  • Stress can lead to intense headaches due to tension.
  • Regular stress can weaken your immune system making you vulnerable to illness.
  • Experiencing stress regularly can be emotionally taxing and can lead to depression.
  • Stress hormones which increase blood flow can cause your heart to pound.

(Reference #1)

What is Mindfulness

“A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations.”

(Reference #3)

“Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that – thoughts.” –Allan Lokos

(Reference #2)

Ways to Practice Mindfulness

  • Take a mindful shower. Notice the sensations on your body and around you. Picture your stress washing away.
  • Take a mindful walk. Be present and aware of the sights and sounds around you.
  • Focus on your breathing. Think of your thoughts as passing clouds . . . let them go and return your focus.
  • Running low on time or wanting guidance? You can try checking out meditation apps or guided meditation videos online.

Some Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

  • Reduces anxiety – mindfulness can reduce anxiety by 38% by improving the part of the brain that controls worrying.
  • Improves concentration – mindfulness can improve your ability to focus and ignore distractions.
  • Minimizes fatigue – regularly practicing mindfulness can improve sleep quality and minimize insomnia and fatigue.
  • Increases resilience – practicing mindfulness everyday for 25 minutes can increase resilience to psychological stress.

(Reference #4)

Start with 5 minutes and work your way up to 20 minutes. Remember, practicing every day is more important than how long you practice.

References

  1. “Stress Effects,” The American Institute of Stress, accessed November 26, 2018, https://www.stress.org/stress-effects/.
  2. “76 Most Powerful Mindfulness Quotes: Your Daily Dose of Inspiration,” Positive Psychology Program, last modified June 18, 2017, https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/mindfulness-quotes/.
  3. “Mindfulness,” Auburn University College of Education, last modified May 11, 2018, http://www.education.auburn.edu/school-of-kinesiology/mindfulness/.
  4. Karen Young, “13 Different Ways to Practice Mindfulness – And the Difference it Can Make,” last modified December 17, 2016, https://www.heysigmund.com/different-ways-to-practice-mindfulness/

Cougar Health Services’ Abby Howard recognized as Staff Woman of Distinction

Abby Howard

Abby Howard, medical clinic physician assistant for Cougar Health Services, will be honored at this year’s Women’s Recognition Celebration as the 2019 Staff Woman of Distinction.

Howard is recognized for her work, dedication, and commitment to creating an inclusive WSU community, particularly through serving students who identify as transgender, an estimated 1-3 percent of students. By providing gender-affirming healthcare, Howard assists students in addressing their mental and physical health needs. However, Howard does more than provide medical services and referrals. She works to build strong relationships with each of her patients.

“Early on in our planning, Abby shared with a patient that she was going to be one of the clinicians here on campus to provide transgender healthcare and the patient hugged her,” said Renée Coleman-Mitchell, executive director for Cougar Health Services. “I think that characterizes the compassion and understanding that Abby possesses.”

Originally from Pennsylvania, Howard has a B.S. in Exercise Science from the University of Delaware and a Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She arrived at WSU in 2016.

During her time at Cougar Health Services, she has developed transgender health training for other providers and staff members so that they can be more responsive to student needs. As Matthew Jefferies, director of the Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center (GIESORC) notes, “Abby has helped dozens of student become who they were meant to be.”

“I feel very honored to receive this award,” said Howard. “In reflecting on it, I am most thankful for my patients who have always been my best teachers.”

Howard will be recognized at this year’s Women’s Recognition Celebration on Monday, March 4 at 6 p.m. in the CUB M.G. Carey Senior Ballroom. To RSVP for this event, visit https://women.wsu.edu/programs/womens-recognition-celebration

Community is invited to join WSU’s Culture of Respect

On February 27th, WSU Pullman is inviting the community to participate in the kickoff event for the Culture of Respect, a campus-wide initiative. The Culture of Respect is a two-year commitment where a team of faculty, staff, students, and community partners from across Pullman will evaluate and enhance our efforts to prevent sex- and gender-based violence on our campus.

Everyone is welcome to come and get involved. Opportunities for you to participate and learn more include:

  • Join our campus team (5 hours per month commitment)
  • Request a Culture of Respect Overview for your department or RSO
  • Attend the kickoff event on February 27th at 11:30am in Lighty 405
  • Share this information with colleagues and friends

Since 2011, WSU has grown tremendously in the prevention of sex- and gender-based violence and the Culture of Respect will continue to build on this strong foundation. At this first meeting, we will be forming the campus team and providing more information about what the initiative involves.

Over the course of the spring term, the CORE Evaluation will be completed to assess our current work and working groups will be established to address the areas our campus can continue to grow in.

The areas we will focus on include:

  • Survivor support
  • Clear policies on misconduct, investigations, adjudications, and sanctions
  • Multitiered education for the entire campus
  • Public disclosure of statistics
  • Schoolwide mobilization with student groups and leaders
  • Ongoing self-assessment

We will be sharing our goals and progress throughout this process, which began in January 2019 when WSU Pullman joined the third cohort of NASPA’s Culture of Respect Collective. The third cohort includes WSU and 37 other higher education institutions in the United States and internationally.

The next meeting will be held March 22nd at 1pm in Lighty 405. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Tara Johnson, Health Promotion Specialist, at tara.l.johnson@wsu.edu

Preparing for your student’s visit

Your Coug is about to complete their first semester of college and will soon be traveling home for the holidays. It is important to recognize since their move, family dynamics, and expectations have likely shifted. Prepare for their visit by understanding these changes are normal to experience.

One of the more obvious changes your student has gone through is finding a sense of independence. This change is expected as your student moves away for the first time. However, it can be one of the more difficult changes to adjust to as a parent and family unit. Adjusting to an unfamiliar environment and schedule is a major challenge for most students. The shift in your Coug’s independence is an indication of a healthy transition.

Before their move to WSU, your student had a higher level of dependence on you. They had daily interactions with you and the family, followed household expectations, and their activities relied on your approval. These are the behaviors and expectations you have been accustomed to for their entire childhood and teenage years.

However, during their visit home, your Coug may expect flexibility with curfews, have a different sleep schedule, and make plans with friends. These behaviors may not be what you had in mind and might make you feel placed on the back burner. It is normal to feel frustrated and even disappointed during this time. What you’re feeling is the tension of two separate worlds coming together.

Your student’s plans may not align with your plans during their visit home. Understanding their plans and intentions during break can explain some of the frustrations you are feeling. Make sure to communicate any concerns you have while seeking to appreciate your student’s perspective and feelings. Visits are a learning experience for both you and your Coug. It’s okay to experience ups and downs during this time. While it is important to be supportive and understanding, your student still needs to respect specific responsibilities and rules you have set for the family.

Use these tips in preparation for your Coug’s first major visit home:

  1. Be open and supportive of the person your Coug is growing into
  2. Strike a balance between their new independence and family expectations
  3. Inform your student of any important changes within the household
  4. Ask your Coug if they have any plans during their visit
  5. Don’t overschedule their break

Mental health and young adults

The transition to college is a time filled with excitement and new possibilities. But this season of life can also be challenging and stressful as you adjust to college and the changes in your life. Stress can develop from academic pressure, relationship changes, lack of sleep, and becoming more independent.

Stress is a normal part of life, but it can affect your mental health and impact not only school, but day to day living. In spring, we collected National College Health Assessment data at WSU Pullman and found in the last year, 86 percent of WSU students felt overwhelmed. Another 64 percent of Cougs expressed they felt very lonely.

Our mental health is how we manage our emotions and cope with stress. Just as we take care of our physical health, we can also care for our mental health. We can all work together to build a supportive campus community.

Cougs can take action to cope when feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or lonely. You can:

  • Spend time with friends and family
  • Participate in activities you enjoy doing
  • Eat a healthy meal
  • Exercise regularly
  • Take breaks from studying to rest and recharge
  • Get a good night of sleep

Every Coug should also be familiar with campus mental health resources. Cougar Health Services provides a free and confidential online mental health screening, which provides recommendations on campus resources to support your mental wellness.

We offer Mental Health First Aid and Campus Connect trainings, where participants learn how to identify mental illnesses, intervene during a crisis, and support themselves and others. WSU also have guides for helping students in distress.

WSU is following the JED approach to develop campus-wide collaboration for mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

To receive updates on WSU’s mental health efforts, subscribe to Cougar Health Services News.

Get your flu vaccine!

Get your flu vaccine

Flu season is approaching fast! You can prevent the flu by getting your flu vaccine at one of our Flu Shot Friday events or by making an appointment with your health care provider.
It’s important that you get your flu shot early in the season. After getting a flu vaccine, it takes about two weeks for your body to develop the antibodies that will protect you from flu virus.

Flu Shot Fridays 2018

Every Friday from September 28 to October 26 *
10 am — 3 pm
Washington Building, ground floor entrance

* Additional flu vaccine outreach will occur on Thursday, October 11 and will be hosted in Bustad Hall 110J, 10:30-1:30

Flu Shot Fridays are open to WSU students, faculty, and staff. We won’t be able to give the vaccine to those who are pregnant or under age 18.

Show up early if you can! We’re giving away free thermometers to the first 150 students each Friday.

Can’t make it to a Flu Shot Friday or want your shot sooner? Flu vaccines are available now in our clinic. Students can make an appointment to get a flu shot.

Cost

Flu shots are covered in full by most insurance plans. If you don’t have insurance or are concerned about costs, we’re here to help you! Contact our billing office at 509-335-3575.

Make sure to bring your insurance card! We won’t be taking payment at the time of service for Flu Shot Fridays, but we’ll get your insurance information for billing.

Parking options

We’ll have some parking spaces reserved in the green lot at Stadium Way and SE Nevada St. for Flu Shot Fridays. Reserved spaces will be marked with orange cones. Metered parking spots are available on NE Washington St.

There are also a number of zoned parking lots available nearby for permit holders. For a detailed parking map, visit Transportation Services. Our building is also easily accessible via public transit. Visit Pullman Transit for routes and schedules.

Help prevent the spread of lice

If you, or one of your close contacts, is experiencing symptoms of lice, you should be treated immediately. All infested persons including household members and close contacts as well as their bedmates, should be treated at the same time, if possible.

Consider treatment if you have:

  • Shared a bed with someone who has lice
  • Shared a hat, scarf, coat, clothes, hair ribbon, or barrettes
  • Had sex with someone with lice
  • Been in close contact with someone with lice

Lice treatment is available over the counter at the Cougar Health Services pharmacy, or at most local stores like Walmart, Rite Aid and grocery stores. In addition to treatment, the Center for Disease Control recommends taking the following steps and precautions if you or someone in your home has been infested with lice:

  • Wash and Dry in Hot Temperatures. Hats, scarves, pillowcases, bedding, clothing, and towels worn or used by the infested person in the 2-day period before treatment is started, can be machine washed and dried using hot water and hot air cycles. Lice and eggs are killed by exposure of 5 minutes in temperatures greater than 53.5°C (128.3°F).
  • Store and Seal in Plastic Bags. Items that cannot be laundered may be sealed in a plastic bag for two weeks.
  • Disinfect. Disinfect combs and brushes used by an infested person by soaking them in hot water (at least 130°F) for 5–10 minutes.
  • Do Not Share. Items such as hats, grooming aids, and towels that come in contact with the hair of an infested person should not be shared.
  • Vacuum and Clean. Vacuuming furniture and floors can remove infested persons’ hairs that might have viable nits attached.
  • Perform a Head Lice Check. Research video tutorials on how to perform a head lice check. Share videos with peers.

If you have concerns about a skin condition or reactions to treatment, please contact the Cougar Health Services medical clinic at 509-335-3575.