In the Wake of Alabama Shooting, Princeton Calls for Counseling, Care

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

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Kelly D.

    Kelly D.

    February 17th, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    A small college may not be rated as ‘excellent’ but it does have a pretty laidback environment, and especially so for subjects of arts and such…most colleges and universities try to make things a bit too professional and thereby put unnecessary burden on each one in there…be it students or the faculty…more so the faculty because they areaid to do a job and are expected to meet tough targets on a regular basis.

  • Georgia


    February 17th, 2010 at 10:34 AM

    Working in higher education can be highly competitive especially as professors from all departments work so hard to put together research and get the funding to continue their studies while teaching too. While I understand this though I do not see how someone so seemingly stable can just fall off the edge like that. I guess in hindsight there were warning signs, like the “accidental” shooting of her brother, but things must have seemed relatively normal for her to even get hired in this position.

  • callie


    February 18th, 2010 at 8:06 AM

    Maybe a better screening process should be used in these cases. Would not have necessarily prevented this from happening but at least it would have brought up some issues that needed to be looked at a little more closely.

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