Something I have not written about yet is the role of faculty in a university setting in regards to mental health. Of course faculty should be allowed to receive services within the local community, and should be protected in terms of mental health/psychological disorders. The same rights that any person should have (including those living with psychological disorders) should be extended faculty.
However, professors and other faculty members have extra responsibility placed on them in regards to students because they most often are the ones who interact with students on a regular basis. Thus, I suggest (at the minimum) that the following four things for professors:
1. Be knowledgeable about the services available on campus and off campus (within the same neighborhood/community). This includes not only formal counseling services but also any peer run programs or community healing services. It might take some research or some reaching out, but knowing this information will ensure that you and your students are safe and have safe spaces to be a part of.
2. Believe your students when it comes to mental health. If someone opens up to you regarding having a psychological disorder, believe them. If someone tells you about trauma, believe them. If someone identifies themselves as a survivor, believe them. This is extremely important, because they may not have other spaces where they are accepted in this way. This is extremely important because it takes a lot of courage to overcome stigma, victim blaming culture, and one’s own emotions to reach out. Shutting someone down in this situations can be re-traumatizing, triggering, isolating, alienating, etc.
3. Put your students health before their grades. That is, if a student reaches out to you for an extension or extra help due to a mental health issue, give it to them. Of course you have your own capacities, but putting faith in your students to do well and acknowledging that having a good support system will only benefit everyone in the future. Imagine how many less students would drop out if they had support and accommodations when it came to things like trauma or depression.
4. Watch your language. Do not use mentalist language. Do not try to compare experiences. Be accountable for trigger warnings. Do not demean mental health issues. Acknowledge when individuals are triggered and consider how lesson plans can be changed if this happens.