Mental health training prepared resident advisers and residence life staff to deal with hard situations involving students.
Former Regents RA Hailey Chamberlain said RA training happens over a two-week period.
The training included a section that focused on what to do in different situations involving mental health, such as depression, stress, anxiety, suicide and more.
Chamberlain said RAs did different mock scenarios where they would talk residents through difficult situations.
“It was hard doing it the first time because we didn’t really know what to do, but then they would critique us on it and tell us how to better approach the situation,” she said.
Chamberlain said RAs were taught specific guiding points to use during hard conversations, as well as recognizing when more advanced help is needed.
The training was overall successful in preparing RAs to deal with mental health issues. However, Chamberlain said she wished there was more of an emphasis on dealing and coping with anxiety.
“I don’t really remember discussing as many things related to anxiety issues because I know a lot of new students can kind of struggle with that when it comes to testing, or just in general,” she said.
Residence Life director Brandon Brackett said the training is helpful overall, but there is only so much one can prepare for when RAs are in those difficult situations.
“The reality is nothing ever happens according to the book,” he said. “There’s a little bit of improvisation, but the starting framework is there for us to identify and then connect [residents] with bigger resources on campus.”
Brackett said multiple RAs have told him these trainings helped them navigate tough situations. Connecting students to other mental health resources is a good way to take immediate action.
On top of being an RA, Chamberlain said she worked with the WSU Peer Educator Group, so she had additional knowledge on dealing with various mental health situations.
In comparison to other training she has received, Chamberlain said the RA training was well done and covered a variety of topics in a deep, meaningful way.
“I think that they [facilitators of the trainings] really did do a good job on that because it’s such an important topic with college students, especially freshmen, leaving their homes and things for the first time,” she said.
COVID-19 restrictions have made it difficult to communicate with residents this year. Chamberlain said the biggest issues she and other RAs faced were keeping in contact with residents and trying to help them through conflicts with other residents.
Brackett said he is pleased with the way things are going. However, he wants the training to add more emphasis on dealing with student burnout, compassion fatigue and surge capacity, as well as how RAs can help students navigate those emotions.
“Practicing balancing your schedule and practicing taking care of yourself … it’s something we need to focus more on,” he said.