Is your student struggling?

 

Every student's experience is unique, however homesickness and anxiety can be common, especially for new university students. Typically, your student will soon settle into a routine and become more at ease with the transition. If they are struggling, there are a number of ways that you can help and resources that they can access

Recognizing that your student may be struggling:

  • lack of direction in what they want to do in university 
  • lack of interest in their coursework
  • not attending classes regularly or not completing assignments 
  • not attending examinations
  • lack of a positive experience when they do achieve academically
  • lack of engagement in campus activities 
  • significant grade decreases 
  • does not register for classes for the subsequent semester
  • lack of balance between studying and other activities (including social activities or work)
  • negative self-talk (i.e. comments about themselves or their performance) 
  • isolation from friends, family, and classmates
  • feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
  • irritability and restlessness
  • experiencing personal issues outside university

Responding:

  • Prepare them before they arrive on campus by talking to them about change and the feelings they may experience. 
  • Encourage healthy habits, including nutrition, sleep, and exercise. 
  • Keep the lines of communication open, and encourage regular phone calls. It's easier to perceive changes in voice and tone than it is to read into a text message. 
  • Approach them honestly and be specific about the behaviour that worries you. 
  • Listen to their concerns openly. There may be various reasons why they are feeling the way they are, and may find it helpful to express all of them. 
  • Forget stigma. Talk to your student about mental health regularly so that they will come to you with any problems they may experience without fear of being judged. Prioritize accessing resources available to them, including mental health resources. 
  • Reassure them that it is normal to feel the way that they are feeling. 
  • Encourage them to talk openly to you, other family members, friends, or professionals or peer support workers at Dalhousie. 
  • Encourage them to get involved in campus life, including events and sports clubs. This will help them connect with other students. 
  • Support them through it. Most students find their way through difficult situations and your support will make that easier. 
  • Allow mistakes. It is unrealistic to expect your student to never experience difficult situations and making the "wrong" decision. Let them know that you support them no matter what and encourage them to learn from their decisions. 

Refer them to on-campus resources:

 

Adapted from Griffith University