As a recent editorial at Princeton University’s newspaper notes, the environment of academia can be extraordinarily difficult on one’s sense of well-being, and the strain and pressure aren’t limited to students. Faculty and staff may find themselves suffering from the intense and highly competitive atmosphere of higher education, especially given recent economic strains on departments across the country. Simply put, keeping or advancing one’s job can seem like an impossible battle, and for some, this may lead an emotional or mental breakdown –potentially resulting in great harm and sorrow, as was this case last week when a University of Alabama at Huntsville professor shot and killed three of her co-workers at a meeting.
The editorial touches upon the need for prevention of such tragedies rather than a full concentration on arming campus police or taking other response measures. Though many colleges and universities across the country and around the world have been ramping up their efforts to bring greater mental health care and therapy services to students, such amenities are not always as available to teachers, and some may feel ashamed or embarrassed about seeking professional help. Just as many of today’s best therapists seek their own therapy in an effort to heal and support themselves while providing a greater service to their clients, modern professors and others in a teaching or care-giving capacity may benefit from taking advantage of treatments to help them overcome professional stress.
As the families of last week’s victims and the campus itself mourns and attempts to come to terms with the tragic shooting, other universities may worry that similar issues may appear on their own campuses –issues perhaps best addressed by providing and encouraging the use of therapy and counseling on campus for students, faculty, and beyond.
© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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