These instructions help you to deal with a situation where you are worried about a fellow student. You don’t have to face difficult situations by yourself and take responsibility for other people’s struggles. You can contact university staff if you are worried about another student. In addition to your subject’s staff, study psychologists and campus pastors can help you. The staff cannot disclose to you about other people’s personal matters, but they can work with you to advance your peer student’s well-being. The goal of our university is to address problems as early and quickly as possible. Appropriate conversation culture is built on trust.
What is worrisome behavior? It is difficult to objectively determine worrisome behavior but arising concern is a sign to stop to ponder whether help is needed.
Changes in behaviour may indicate the need for help, for example withdrawing from leisure activities or social situations. Atypical or strange behaviour can also be a personal feature that doesn’t need to be concerned about. The key is big changes in behaviour. It is important to talk about bad and rude behaviour.
Help for financial problems are listed in Kamu.
Substance abuse is a special concern and it’s important to address as early as possible. You can voice your worry to your peer student in a caring manner and inform them about providers of help.
When concern arises, talk as directly as possible about your observations – don’t interpret!
- ”I’ve noticed you often seem distracted, what would it be all about?”
- Don’t make interpretations: ”That person is depressed…they are pretty lazy.”
When concern arises, encourage the student to contact e.g. study psychologists, FSHS or campus pastors. Kamu has links to different providers of help.
- Encourage them to seek help. Remember! Your fellow student will decide whether they accept help or not. Speaking up is enough.
- Guide the student to contact the appropriate parties, tips on how to do so (UEF Help Cards "Find help in life crises" and also in Kamu Student Handbook: Providers of help.
- Tell the student that seeking and accepting help is very wise. Emphasise the value of professional help
- Convince the student that other students will also seek help during their studies:
- "Many have benefited from visits to the study psychologist – would you like to contact a study psychologist or shall we do it together?".
- "FSHS services are available to students – it might be a good idea to ask for help in this situation. What do you think?"
- Find out the safety nets for the student and encourage them to take action
- Prepare yourself, if necessary, or make sure that the student is accompanied by someone when they contact the necessary aid
- Offer to escort the student to help
- If you are worried about your peer student you can ponder the situation with the university staff, but they cannot disclose your peer student's personal information to you.
Remember that you are first and foremost a peer student. Another student’s difficult situation is not your responsibility. Listening and forwarding to providers of help is often enough. You can tell the person you are trying to help that you are talking to them as a friend/peer student, but that professional help should be the next step. You need to take care of your own wellbeing as well and direct your peer to providers of help. If needed, also ask help for yourself.
If you are worried that the student might have suicidal thoughts or plans, it is important to ask about
these directly. Asking directly about suicide or self-harm is not dangerous, it can rather help a person get the help they need. If such a discussion occurs, try to reassure yourself in the situation, for example by breathing deeply and slowly. Talk to staff, fellow student or another source of help as soon as possible after the discussion with the student.
You do not need to diagnose nor treat mental health problems nor be able to give an accurate assessment of when there is a real threat at hand. All you have to do is guide them to seek help if both you and the student think help is needed.
Suggest to the student to call the emergency so that they call, or you call with their permission. You can say you are worried and you wouldn’t want them to be left alone. You can also say there is help available and tell them people want to help.
Disruptive behavior manifests itself, for example, in a way that the student disturbs others, interrupts, speaks on top of others or comments inappropriately in a lecture or teaching group. The student shouts at the teacher, other students, etc., sends inappropriate text messages or e-mails, the student inappropriately comments on social media. The student acts in a discriminatory or inappropriate manner. This can also be nonverbal behavior such as laughing, eye rolling, etc. during or after a fellow student's speech.
Teachers and students have the right to a peaceful working environment. If a fellow student disrupts teaching, you can raise the issue with the course teacher.
If the student insults, teases or otherwise behaves inappropriately or disturbs with messages (no serious acute threat), tell them their messages or behavior is inappropriate. Ask the student to change their behavior for inappropriate behavior forbidden in our university. "You are talking at the same time as I, so it's hard for me to focus on what I'm saying and it bothers other students as well". "I noticed you were rolling your eyes and laughing while X spoke about their views. I felt your behavior was very nullifying and unfortunate towards X. Could we treat each other with more respect in the future?" Notify the teacher about the situation, interfering with teaching may lead to removal from teaching as well as disciplinary action. If needed, report bullying and harassment to university anti-harassment contact persons.
Threatening behavior manifests itself, for example, in a way that the student threatens the safety of themself or others during teaching or in public areas. Social media is also a common area where threatening behavior may appear (Facebook of a subject group, etc.). If such earlier messages are known, it is advisable to act as in the event of an acute threat and call 112. The Emergency Response Centre Agency ('Hätäkeskus' in Finnish) will assess the seriousness of the situation. Your responsibility as a fellow student ends there.
Violence or potential violence (acute threatening situation) is an exception. In such a case, it is often necessary to intervene in a different way than just talk to the student.
- Try to be calm and not to get provoked. Keep your hands where the student can see them and move slowly. Call 112 as soon as possible and tell them what is going on. If possible, calm the threatening person by showing that you are listening, and speak calmly. However, calling for help is your top priority. Professionals make the assessment about how to act. It is better to call for help unnecessarily than jeopardize people’s health.
- If necessary, flee to the nearest safe space using some excuse if the threat is directed at you or the student does not calm down.
- Forward the information to the Facilities Management (Security Manager or Facilities Management Officer).
- Afterwards, tell your teaching staff or Campus Crisis Groups about your findings.
- Seek help for yourself after the incident. Threatening situations are traumatic for most people. Talk to your peer students, student health services or other sources of help for support.