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Faculty, Staff, and Student Leaders toolkit

A toolkit on how to identify a basic needs and wellness situation,
talking to students about these needs, and resources...

 

student on patio

 

Identifying a Basic Needs and Wellness Situation

When a student talks about food, housing, finances, mental health (stress, anxiety, depression, etc.), and sleep…

  • Listen for statements about a lack of or barriers to food, housing, finances, mental health or sleep.
  • Listen for vague language or downplaying of their situation.
  • Take statements about basic needs or wellness seriously, even if they seem casual and even if a student feels or acts normal about their situation.
  • If you hear a student talk about a basic needs or wellness situation, follow up with them via email, text, Zoom messaging, or in person to check in and talk about resources available to them.

Use the dropdowns below to find more specific information on how to identify a Basic Needs and Wellness situation. 

 

About Food Insecurity

Food insecurity affects 41.6% of CSU students, but 51.9% of CSU students are unaware of a food pantry located on campus or say such services were not available.

 

Insert video on food insecurity here

Verbal Cues

  • “I’m so hungry but can’t eat”
  • “I’ve literally spent all my money on rent”
  • “I’ve spent every dime I have on housing”

Non-Verbal Cues

 

  • Look out for excessively tired students.
  • Students having difficulties paying attention.
  • Changes in mood and focus.

Resources

 

How to Talk to a student in this situation?

Suggested resources from the Food section of the toolkit

Immediate Food Resources

  • A.S. Food Pantry
  • Economic Crisis Response Team

Beyond Food Resources

  • Cal Fresh Enrollment Specialists
  • Financial Aid & Scholarships
  • Student Account Services

"Immediate" Resources are ones where you can refer a student to right away where they can be helped right away. 
"Beyond" Resources are ones that can be contacted right away, but have a waiting time associated with receiving the resource.

About Housing Insecurity

10.9% of CSU students report experiencing homelessness one or more times in the last 12 months

 

Verbal Cues

 

  • “I haven’t worked in a long time and I don’t know how I’m going to pay my rent”
  • “I have no place to live, I've been staying here and there, I'm staying on a couch etc.”
  • “I need to pay my car insurance”
  • “ I must pay for my registration”

Non-Verbal Cues

 

  • Sleepiness
  • Looking disheveled
  • Doing poorly in classes
  • Frequently moving around from various friends houses
  • Overt fear of losing their car/vehicle, especially if living in their car is their sole housing option.

Resources

How to Talk to a student in this situation?

Suggested resources from the Housing section of the toolkit:

Immediate Housing Resources

  • Economic Crisis Response Team
  • 2-1-1 San Diego

Beyond Housing Resources

  • Financial Aid & Scholarships
  • Student Account Services

"Immediate" Resources are ones where you can refer a student to right away where they can be helped right away. 
"Beyond" Resources are ones that can be contacted right away, but have a waiting time associated with receiving the resource.

About Financial Insecurity

According to the most recent data (2017-2018), 42.4% of SDSU students received the federal Pell grant, which is a proxy measure for low-income status among students.

 

 

Verbal Cues

 

 
  • “I’ve been skipping (breakfast/lunch/dinner) every day to save money”
  • “I used all my loans” and the semester just started (~1 month).

Non-Verbal Cues

  • Changes in behavior (ex. A student normally showing up to class but now is not)
  • Changes in mood (if a student is having an outburst)
  • Changes in physical appearance (student is disheveled)

Resources

How to Talk to a student in this situation?

Suggested resources from the Financial Insecurity section of the toolkit:

Immediate Financial Resources

  • Economic Crisis Response Team

Beyond Financial Resources

  • Financial Aid & Scholarships
  • Student Account Services

"Immediate" Resources are ones where you can refer a student to right away where they can be helped right away. 
"Beyond" Resources are ones that can be contacted right away, but have a waiting time associated with receiving the resource.

 
 

About Mental Health

According to most recent data, CSU students report feeling depressed (36.3%), overwhelming anxiety (57.4%), overwhelming anger (41.3%), and more than average/tremendous stress (50.7%) within the past 12 months.

 

Verbal Cues

 
  • Suicidal ideation, such as “I can’t do this anymore,” 
  • “I don’t want to be here anymore,”
  •  “I can’t handle this.”
  • “I’m over it.”
  •  "I've been sleeping a lot and every time I try to do work I fall asleep."
  •  "My mind just races and I can't focus."
  •  “I’m sorry I couldn’t get the assignment in on time” I’m scared that I’m not going to get any work done can you help me?” 

Non-Verbal Cues

 

  • Tearfulness
  • Remarkable fidgetiness, difficult sitting still, distracted

Resources

How to Talk to a student in this situation?

Suggested resources from our Mental Health section of the toolkit:

Immediate Mental Health Resources

  • San Diego Access & Crisis Line (chat/phone/text)

Beyond Mental Health Resources

  • Schedule a phone consultation with a C&PS therapist
  • Talk It Out
  • Speak with an Assistant Dean
  • Speak with the Community Resource Specialist

"Immediate" Resources are ones where you can refer a student to right away where they can be helped right away. 
"Beyond" Resources are ones that can be contacted right away, but have a waiting time associated with receiving the resource.

 

About Sleep Wellness

Daytime sleepiness and sleep difficulties affect 11% and 17.2% of CSU students, respectively.

 

 

Verbal Cues

 

  • “I’ve only slept for <5 hrs”
  • “I’m so exhausted”
  • “I downed a monster before this class” (especially if it’s an afternoon class)
  • “I’m sleeping at a friend’s house”
  • “I’m sleeping on the couch right now”
  • “I’m sleeping in my car”
  • “I don't want to sleep at my house right now”

Non-Verbal Cues

 

  • Falling asleep in class/during meetings etc.
  • Nodding off in class/during meetings etc.
  • Sleeping in unusual places
  • Decline in quality of work, uneven performance
  • Tardiness to class
  • The appearance of “zoning out”
  • Impaired mood
  • Increase in motor vehicle accidents

Resources

How to Talk to a student in this situation?

Suggested resources from our Sleep Wellness section of the toolkit:

Immediate Sleep Resources

  • Sleep Strategies From C&PS
  • Sleep Deprivation Resources for Students that are Parents

Beyond Sleep Resources

  • Healthy Sleep Habits Presentation
  • Aspire Program: For students experiencing sleep deprivation because of drinking (includes resources for binge drinking)

"Immediate" Resources are ones where you can refer a student to right away where they can be helped right away. 
"Beyond" Resources are ones that can be contacted right away, but have a waiting time associated with receiving the resource.

 

About Physical Health

20% of CSU students do not feel their health is good.

 

 

Verbal Cues

 

Statements emphasizing:

  • Unpleasant states of sleep
  • Appetite/Eating Behaviors
  • Crying
  • Physical Energy
  • Slowing Down of Excitement
  • Slowed Motor Skills
  • Reduced Sexual Desire
  • Slower Memory
    /Worsened Concentration
  • Words like weak, dizzy, tense, restless, and low

Non-Verbal Cues

 

  • Low energy
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Poor concentration
  • Slowed motor skills
  • Visibly weak
  • Mood changes (frustration, withdrawn, quiet)

Resources

How to Talk to a student in this situation?

Suggested resources from our Physical Health section of the toolkit:

Immediate Physical Health Resources

  • Aztec Recreation
  • Live Well Aztecs/Campus Well

Beyond Physical Health Resources

  • Nutrition one-on-one sessions
  • Student Health Services

"Immediate" Resources are ones where you can refer a student to right away where they can be helped right away. 
"Beyond" Resources are ones that can be contacted right away, but have a waiting time associated with receiving the resource.

 

About Safety

24% of CSU students do not feel very safe on campus during the day, and 79% of CSU students do not feel very safe at night.

 

 

Verbal Cues

 

  • I'm scared to go home

Non-Verbal Cues

 

  • Falling asleep in class/during meetings etc.
  • Nodding off in class/during meetings etc.
  • Sleeping in unusual places
  • Decline in quality of work, uneven performance
  • Tardiness to class
  • The appearance of “zoning out”
  • Impaired mood
  • Increase in motor vehicle accidents

Resources

How to Talk to a student presenting safety concerns?

Suggested resources from our Safety section of the toolkit:

Immediate Safety Resources

  • University Police
  • Title IX

Beyond Safety Resources

  • Aztec Recreation Self-Defense Classes

"Immediate" Resources are ones where you can refer a student to right away where they can be helped right away. 
"Beyond" Resources are ones that can be contacted right away, but have a waiting time associated with receiving the resource.

 

About AOD

56% of CSU students reported alcohol use in the last 30 days and 12% of students took prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them.

 

 

Verbal Cues

 

  • “I’m so hungover”
  • “I probably shouldn’t go out tonight but I feel like I need to”
  • Language about partying frequently or on weekdays.

Non-Verbal Cues

 

  • Academic decline/lack of motivation
  • Changes in personality traits
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Giving up activities to do drugs or recover from a hangover
  • Continuing to drink or do drugs even after health problems incur
  • Frequent runny nose (common with cocaine addiction)
  • Loss of physical coordination
  • Bloodshot eyes
    Changes in weight and appetite
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Tremors or seizures
  • Changes in sleep patterns

Resources

How to Talk to a student presenting AOD concerns?

Suggested resources from our AOD section of the toolkit:

Immediate AOD Resources

  • Marijuana eCHECKUP to go
  • Alcohol eCHECKUP to go

Beyond AOD Resources

  • Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Presentation
  • Counseling & Psychological Services ASPIRE Program

"Immediate" Resources are ones where you can refer a student to right away where they can be helped right away. 
"Beyond" Resources are ones that can be contacted right away, but have a waiting time associated with receiving the resource.

 

About Academic Need

48% of CSU students report their academic issues are traumatic or very difficult to handle.

 

 

Verbal Cues

 

Statements emphasizing:

  • “I’m struggling with my classes”
  • “I’m barely passing”
  • “I don’t know how I’m going to hold up this semester”

Non-Verbal Cues

 

  • Submitting assignments late
  • Worsening academic performance

Resources

How to Talk to a student presenting Academic concerns?

Suggested resources from our Academic Needs section of the toolkit:

Immediate Academic Resources

  • SDSU Library, Technology Checkout
  • ECRT

Beyond Academic Resources

  • SDSU Office of Advising
  • SDSU Office of the Registrar

"Immediate" Resources are ones where you can refer a student to right away where they can be helped right away. 
"Beyond" Resources are ones that can be contacted right away, but have a waiting time associated with receiving the resource.

student under tree

Talking to students about Basic Needs and Wellness.

If a student’s behavior seems abnormal: whether they are crying often, withdrawn, irritable, angry, or stressed…

  • Check in with them using open ended questions
  • Actively listen to what they have to say
  • Use the information from your conversation to refer the student to the appropriate resource.

Use the dropdowns below to view further resources on a variety of situations.

How to be proactive

Be Proactive

You don’t need to wait for a sign to address basic needs and wellness. Be proactive by:

  • Making an announcement towards the beginning of the semester that identifies yourself as a point person for students who are experiencing difficulties with basic needs and wellness and normalizes talking about basic needs and wellness situations.
  • Adding basic needs and wellness resources to your email signature or at the end of your class syllabus.
  • Registering for and attending an ECRT advocate training.

Resources

Resources for this situation (links to the Referral page of the toolkit):

  • Sample syllabus language (link to a Google doc)
  • Sample email signature language (link to a Google doc)
    ECRT advocate training registration, contact email address: [email protected]
 

How to talk to a crying student

Check-in & Listen

When you see a student crying, check in with them about their basic needs and wellness. 
  • Use an open-ended question to ask about their well-being, like:
    “What’s going on that’s making you cry?"
    "We can set a time to talk about what’s going on for you right now.”
  • Actively listen to the student's response and respond with statements that demonstrate that you are listening and you are supportive of the student, like,
    “I understand how stressful this must be. I am happy to connect you with people on campus who can help.”
Once you’ve assessed the student’s situation, use the information you learned to refer them to the appropriate resource.

Resources

Resources for a student in this situation (links to the Referral page of the toolkit):
  • Dependent on what basic needs or wellness situation was identified, refer the student to an appropriate resource. Learn more about which resources apply to which situations in the Referral page of the toolkit (links to the Referral page of the toolkit).
 

How to talk with an angry/irritable student

Check-in & Listen

 

Some students might express underlying feelings or problem situations through anger and irritation.

Phrases like

  • “How can I best help you?” can be a good way to check in with a student and de-escalate their anger.
  • If a student shares frustrations, listen, nod, and, when appropriate, reflect their feelings with a statement like “that sounds so frustrating.”

Alternate verbal and non-verbal cues to watch out for in angry/irritable students:

  • Yelling
  • Making other noises out of turn
  • Balling their fists
  • Shaking body part
  • Visibly rapid breathing

When checking in with a student, make sure you ask them about their basic needs or wellness. Some questions you can ask include:

  • Are things alright at home?
  • Are you struggling with food?
  • Is your housing stable?
  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • Do you have appropriate technology for class?
  • Are you feeling mentally drained?” 

Once you’ve assessed the student’s situation, use the information you learned to refer them to the appropriate resource!

Resources

Dependent on what basic needs or wellness situation was identified, refer the student to an appropriate resource. Learn more about which resources apply to which situations in the Referral page of the toolkit (links to the Referral page of the toolkit).
 

How to talk to students whose behavior has changed

Check-in & Listen

 

If a student’s behavior seems abnormal, assess for a basic needs and wellness crises.

When appropriate, pull the student aside (in-person or online) and ask them if something is going on.

Ask questions like:

  • Is everything alright at home? 
  • Are you struggling with food?
    Is your housing stable?
  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • Do you have appropriate technology for your classes?
  • Are you feeling mentally drained?

Once you’ve assessed the student’s situation, use the information you learned to refer them to the appropriate resource!

Resources

 

Dependent on what basic needs or wellness situation was identified, refer the student to an appropriate resource. Learn more about which resources apply to which situations in the Referral page of the toolkit (links to the Referral page of the toolkit).
 

How to talk to a student who has become withdrawn

Check-in & Listen

If a student demonstrates behavior that is withdrawn or isolated, assess them for a basic needs and wellness crises.

When appropriate, pull the student aside (in-person or online) and ask them if something is going on.

Ask questions like:

  • Is everything alright at home? 
  • Are you struggling with food?
  • Is your housing stable?
  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • Do you have appropriate technology for your classes?
  • Are you feeling mentally drained?

Once you’ve assessed the student’s situation, use the information you learned to refer them to the appropriate resource!

Resources

 

Dependent on what basic needs or wellness situation was identified, refer the student to an appropriate resource. Learn more about which resources apply to which situations in the Referral page of the toolkit (links to the Referral page of the toolkit).
 

How to talk to a student who is stressed

Check-in & Listen

If a student demonstrates behavior that suggests stress or panic, assess them for a basic needs and wellness crises.

When appropriate, pull the student aside (in-person or online) and ask them if something is going on.

Ask questions like:


  • Is everything alright at home? 
  • Are you struggling with food?
  • Is your housing stable?
  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • Do you have appropriate technology for your classes?
  • Are you feeling mentally drained?

Once you’ve assessed the student’s situation, use the information you learned to refer them to the appropriate resource!

Resources

Dependent on what basic needs or wellness situation was identified, refer the student to an appropriate resource. Learn more about which resources apply to which situations in the Referral page of the toolkit (links to the Referral page of the toolkit).