SEED workshop trains student employees to help students in distress

Wesley Story

Meet Roger, a hypothetical UT student who is experiencing feelings of distress. 

Roger was created by workshop facilitators and student employees during the “Real Talk” workshop on Wednesday. 

The UT Counseling and Mental Health Center presented their “Real Talk” workshop for student employees as part of the Student Employee Excellence Development Program. The workshop focused on helping students experiencing emotional distress. Facilitators from CMHC engaged audience members through interactive exercises, like the one mentioned above, where students discussed solutions to Roger’s problem.

Amanda McCarty, public affairs graduate student and graduate assistant with the Longhorn Center for Community Engagement said she appreciated the workshop’s interactive approach.  

“It’s a tough subject and people don’t always like talking about it,” McCarty said. “When you’re discussing a topic like this, engaging the audience humanizes things and breaks down those barriers.”

While Wednesday’s workshop was specifically for student employees, any student or organization on campus can request a workshop from CMHC.

“Emotional distress is an issue that all college students can be impacted by,” said Marian Trattner, suicide prevention coordinator for the CMHC. “Students don’t have to suffer alone in silence with their emotional health. On campus there are a lot of great resources and people who are willing and wanting to help students.”

The workshop provided an overview of the signs of stress, distress and suicide using Roger, the hypothetical student. The facilitators tracked Roger’s place on the suicidal continuum as his symptoms grew more severe.

The workshop then explored a three-step process developed by BeVocal, a bystander intervention initiative at UT, which involves recognizing potential harm, choosing to respond and taking action. 

Amy Greenspan, student employment coordinator for UT, is in charge of organizing the SEED Program workshops. SEED started in 2012 after Greenspan attended the National Student Employment Association conference. She learned about other universities’ professional development programs and thought it was something UT could benefit from. Now, UT’s program is a model for universities around the country. 

Greenspan said it’s important for the University to offer staff development opportunities because it provides a happier and more motivated workforce.

“I see my mission as helping the campus climate be one that values student employees and recognizes what a huge contribution student employees make to the University,” Greenspan said.

Greenspan hopes employee development opportunities, like the Real Talk workshop, will help produce better-rounded student employees.