Welcome to our faculty page on the CS Mental Health Committee forum.
We’d like to thank you for taking the first step towards becoming a better ally and supporting students in the community.
We have a few resources and tips our members have compiled below. We are also constantly trying to improve resources for faculty training and awareness and if you are interested in helping us work on further initiatives, we have an extremely short (< 2 minute) multiple-choice survey that would help us a lot in better understanding faculty awareness around mental health. It is completely anonymous and requires no log-in or email sign up. You can find the survey via Google Forms.
Mental Health Training
Faculty training around mental health is invaluable as a lot of mental health and mental illness can be especially stigmatized, especially in communities like Engineering and Computer Science where community standards like academic rigor and stress and heavy workloads are often intertwined with student anxiety, depression, and mental health struggles. While academics are incredibly important, even the smallest bit of faculty compassion and awareness can go a long way. Faculty is often also at the front lines when it comes to interacting with students, so being able to identify and assist students at risk is especially helpful.
We would highly recommend everyone complete the basic Kognito At-Risk training for faculty, located at https://ui.kognito.com and provided free-of-cost by the Counseling Center. This is a short, self-paced training simulation that should take no more than 25-30 minutes.
If you are looking for more intensive trainings, you can also check out our ally space or request a workshop directly from the Counseling Center.
We also have a comprehensive page specifically about mental health resources that includes university-wide resources, Engineering/LAS/Computer Science resources, and local/state resources. We would highly recommend familiarizing yourself with basic university resources.
If you are comfortable doing so, we would also request that faculty add the following statement to their syllabus alongside the DRES statement:
Diminished mental health, including significant stress, mood changes, excessive worry, substance/alcohol abuse, or problems with eating and/or sleeping can interfere with optimal academic performance, social development, and emotional wellbeing. The University of Illinois offers a variety of confidential services including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, psychiatric services, and specialized screenings at no additional cost. If you or someone you know experiences any of the above mental health concerns, it is strongly encouraged to contact or visit any of the University’s resources provided below. Getting help is a smart and courageous thing to do – for yourself and for those who care about you.
Counseling Center: 217-333-3704, 610 East John Street Champaign, IL 61820
McKinley Health Center: 217-333-2700, 1109 South Lincoln Avenue, Urbana, Illinois 61801
This statement would be extremely helpful in raising awareness of community resources and letting students know that their mental wellbeing and health should be a priority. The statement has also been vetted and approved by the Counseling Center.
If you’d like to read more about the proposal and the reasoning behind it, you can check out the proposal PDF.
Faculty compassion is one of the most important things in an academic setting, even more so this year during the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought a lot of increased anxiety and uncertainty for all. We recognize that everyone is struggling right now, including faculty, but we would urge faculty to continue to be kind towards students, especially in classes. The reality is that all students have additional stressors this year whether based on changes to home and living situations, job insecurity, financial instability, lack of insurance, familial obligations, physical and mental health difficulties, etc., or even from the anxiety surrounding the pandemic itself.
Active Minds, a nationally-recognized mental health organization has put on an excellent guide “Creating a Culture of Caring: Practical Approaches for College and University Faculty to Support Student Wellbeing and Mental Health”. You can find that resource on the Active Minds website.
In particular, the guide talks about normalizing the need for help, actively listening, embedding well-being practices in courses, and practicing one’s own self-care.
Faculty/Staff Mental Health
For concerns with faculty or staff mental health, we would recommend the following resource: