Here are a few resources related to supporting students (and others) in psychological distress:

1. Trauma-Informed Practices for Postsecondary Education: A Guide (pdf)

2. Mental Health First Aid (MFHA), an 8 hour face-to-face training course:

MHFA is an evidence-based training program designed to instill participants with the necessary skills to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. MHFA’s action plan, summarized by the acronym ALGEE, is simple and easy to remember.
  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen non-judgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

The primary focus of MHFA is not what the specific mental health issue is or naming the problem, but how to recognize when someone may be experiencing an issue and how provide assistance. MHFA is often compared to Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) since both programs focus on training individuals to become first aiders, not medical experts. Since the goal is to assess warning signs of mental health and substance abuse issues, and not become mental health experts, participants concern themselves with providing resources and encouraging professional-help and self-help. Remember, individuals trained in CPR don’t know if someone has had a heart attack, or some other medical issue, but they do know something is wrong. According to research studies, MHFA participants:

  • Understand the signs, symptoms, and risk factors of mental illnesses and addictions
  • Can identify multiple professional and self-help resources for individuals experiencing a mental health illness or addiction
  • Have increased confidence in assisting someone in distress
  • Demonstrate increased mental health wellness themselves

3. And see the article “Psychology And Trauma In Schools: How Can Teachers Help?

Dr. Raviv: From my perspective, the most important role a teacher plays is developing a strong relationship and intimate knowledge of his or her students: as learners, as individuals, and as members of their classroom community.
The first step of becoming trauma-informed is to understand the ways in which some of the behaviors that concern teachers–reactivity, social withdrawal, tardiness, and absenteeism—may be manifestations of traumatic exposure.  Viewing student behaviors through a “trauma lens” rather than labeling students as defiant, disengaged, or unmotivated opens the door for considering alternative strategies to connect to and support students and respond to these behaviors.
In our work with teachers and schools, we emphasize three key components that form the foundation for a trauma-sensitive classroom:
  • Creating safety (physical and emotional)
  • Emphasizing positive relationships
  • Supporting and teaching emotion regulation.

I posted some resources for improving student success in college math courses over on the POD list, copied below:

I highly recommend this free ebook that MAA (mathematical association of america) put out last year: Instructional Practices Guide: Guide to Evidence-Based Instructional Practices in Undergraduate Mathematics.

If you have an engineering program in which a high percentage of students are underprepared or failing calculus & physics, see the Wright State Model for Engineering Mathematics Education. 89% of students who took their engineering math course went on to pass Calculus, vs. only 60% of students who did not.  There are other examples out there of teaching math in context (biology, business, etc.) to improve student success.

Adopting open (free) textbooks can improve student success in math and other disciplines, perhaps partly because a significant percentage of students don’t even buy the textbook. See for example the free math books offered by OpenStax and Active Calculus.  See also my previous post on The Case for Open Textbooks.

Adaptive learning tools such as ALEKS can help.  Here’s information about a precalc class that went from 45% passing to 55% when adopting active learning methods, and then 70% passing when adopting ALEKS. ALEKS can be integrated with the OpenStax precalculus textbook.

Some also combine the use of adaptive learning tools with the ’emporium’ lab classroom model which has been shown to increase student success, although an increasing number of colleges and states are abandoning traditional remedial math courses and doing co-requisite remediation instead, which appears to be more effective.

Freshmen college success courses can help improve student success but vary widely in their impact on graduation rates.  Some (extended orientation courses) can be worse than not having any course at all.  Whereas for example Ohio State students who took Bruce Tuckman’s Learning and Motivation Strategies course were 45% more likely to graduate.

There are more ideas specific to math education in conferences like RUME and math education journals like PRIMUS.