International students bring a vast amount of cultural diversity and experiences to the University of New Hampshire. These students have unique perspectives that they bring to our classroom and the greater campus community. As these students are adapting to living in the U.S. culture, it is important that we also adapt to their unique needs as well. It is also important to realize when a student is experiencing difficulty adapting as opposed to when a student is experiencing a mental health crisis.
The status of some students as international students can sometimes cause them to experience stressors that their peers do not. One of the most common stressors stems from poor cultural adjustment. This can take the form of an insufficient social network, homesickness and difficulty coping with U.S. customs. These students may also experience pressure to succeed from family members, vocational stress, or stress from issues related to navigating the necessary paperwork and requirements the much achieve to remain in the U.S.
Like any other student, international students can also experience a mental health crisis. It may be difficult to determine when an international student you are interacting with is experiencing a mental health concern. As in the U.S., international students experience many cultural and familial biases towards mental health concerns. They may have different perceptions of what constitutes feelings such as depression and anxiety. In addition, these students may also have differing cultural-based perceptions on what it means to seek treatment for their mental health, which can make it difficult for them to seek assistance on their own.
There are some warning signs that you may notice when working with an international student that might indicate they are experiencing a mental health crisis. These can include:
- Markedly lower grades
- Failure to attend classes or meetings
- Socially isolating themselves from other students
- Inappropriate expectations or requests
- Substance abuse
- Changes in appearance (weight loss or gain, poor hygiene, hyper or hypo activity)
- Changes in mental or emotional capabilities (reported thoughts of suicide, emotional outbursts, confusion, inability to control emotions)
Of course one of the biggest warning signs that an international student may need assistance occurs when multiple individuals (faculty, staff, peers, and family members) begin to share concerns about the student.
If you suspect that a student may be experiencing difficulties,
- If you feel that the student is a threat to themselves or to you call the UNH police (911)
- Speak to the student yourself. It is important when doing this that you pay attention to what the student is saying while also noticing deeper levels of meaning and body language.
- Call PACS (2-2090/TTY: 7-1-1 or 800-735-2964 Relay NH) to speak with an on-call clinician to answer questions
- Speak with someone from the Office of International Students & Scholars (2-1288/TTY: 7-1-1 or 800-735-2964 Relay NH) to note your concern about the student.
- Know the resources that students have available to them: