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Meet the Class of Fall 2019: Students’ lives more complex than ever

October 9, 2019

Mental health resources valuable at NIU, across the country

While NIU’s admissions standards have remained consistent, students’ lives have not.

Understanding their specific needs can help faculty and staff provide the individualized support they need to succeed, says Kelly Wesener Michael, associate vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.

Toward that end, Wesener Michael recently released the Dean of Students Meet the Class Huskie Profile Fall 2019. The profile emphasizes the importance of effectively meeting the emerging mental health needs of students.

While most students did not report being diagnosed with or treated for anxiety, depression or panic attacks in the last year, students do report experiences related to their mental health. 

Counseling and Consultation Services offers individual and group therapy for NIU students.

Recent data from a National College Health Assessment of NIU students show students report feeling overwhelmed (82%), exhausted (78%) and very sad (64%). Seven to 8% of undergraduate students receive support through direct clinical services (individual and group therapy) from Counseling and Consultation Services.

Consistent with other university counseling centers across the country, Counseling and Consultation Services continues to experience an increased demand for services, including students who demonstrate more significant mental health concerns.

Along with comprehensive counseling, crisis and advocacy services, the department offers specialized services in the areas of substance abuse, eating and body image concerns and anger. Presentations on mental, emotional and relationship health, as well as referral services to Community Mental Health Resources, also are provided.

“We provide mental health support to students to help them reach their academic and personal goals,” said Tim Paquette, interim co-director of Counseling and Consultation Services. “This includes connecting students to additional resources to best meet their individual needs.”

Numerous resources are available for faculty and staff to help students address mental health issues.

“If you’re concerned about a student, besides reaching out to Counseling and Consultation Services for guidance, looking through the Student of Concern resources can help,” Wesener Michael says.

The resources include information about:

  • What to look for and recognizing signs of emotional distress, such as exaggerated emotional responses or disturbing coursework content.
  • What to do in cases of immediate, uncertain or no immediate risk of harm and how to connect to resources.
  • Filing a report through Student of Concern.
  • Providing support. “The Student of Concern team is one resource on campus to communicate this concern, but you still have a primary relationship with that student,” Wesener Michael says. “Consulting with the team and submitting a Student of Concern report is only one part of the process. We encourage you to continue to provide appropriate support and referrals to students about whom you are concerned.”
  • FAQ’s, such as who is on the committee or how FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, comes into play.
  • A Faculty Toolkit.

For questions, concerns or ideas regarding the Meet the Class report, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 815-753-6100 or [email protected].