Video: Higher Ed Case Management – Intro to Connections

Speaker: Tashia Moore

Hi, my name is Tashia Moore and I'm a professional counselor at Dallas College, North Lake Campus and we are here with Stephanie Harris and we're going to be discussing a little bit about Connections at Dallas College, a little history of higher education in regards to case management and how they coincide and the benefits of it for our students, as well as a little bit about depression and self-care and the way to combat depression during the time during this pandemic.

Speaker: Stephanie Harris

Hi. I'm Stephanie Harris. I am the social worker at Dallas College. I'm located at the Richland Campus and I've been working with the Connections program for about a year now. And so, we hope that you'll learn something today about how to support yourself and support your students, friends, family, and kind of recognize when it's okay to ask for help. So, stress seems to be kind of a running theme, at least through 2020 in my experience. We know that college in its own is very stressful, and you add on that -- a pandemic or any financial stresses, or life stress and it can feel overwhelming at times. And so, we wanted to start off talking a little bit about stress and all of the different ways that it manifests in our world, in our lives, in our bodies. And the effects that it has on your mental health. So, when we think of stress what comes to mind? That heavy burdened feeling on your shoulders, feeling unable to get anything done because you have so much going on, right. And when we're talking about stress, who all -- who all experiences it? Every single person. Every person on this planet has experienced some form of stress. But stress is not always bad, right? we can have good stress, we can have -- and then we can also have negative stress, and I feel like very often we lean towards the negative impact of stress, because it can be really detrimental to our overall well-being, but, you know, when you're stressed because you have -- you know, people are all -- a lot of times are stressed on their wedding days; that's good stress though, right?

That's a good outcome from that stress. People are stressed when they're driving sometimes, and that can be good stress because you're paying more attention to your surroundings. So, there's -- stress isn't always technically a negative thing. But how we handle it is what's the most important part. So when we have too much to do, I really -- this pic -- this picture of this woman with all of the hands and all of the things, I really feel I identify with that one so deeply because sometimes you are really juggling so many plates and as soon as you get them all spinning one starts to fall and so you're constantly running, right? So, when we have too much to do, stress can feel really overwhelming and then we can -- that leads into a learned helplessness, which can lead into depression and burnout. And so, you can only stay at a certain level of stress for so long, which is why it's so important to identify what is causing you stress? Is it financial? Is it social? Is it mental? Is it physical? Is it everything? So that we can figure out how to mitigate that and kind of balance it so that depression and burnout don't happen. And there's a million things that stress can lead to, but these are the two that we're going to highlight today. So, when we're talking about learned helplessness, and Tashia and I have talked, we don't really love this term, but there's not really a better -- a better word for it. When we get stuck in avoidance, we begin to believe that we cannot change things and that it will always be this way. I think this picture is such a perfect example because this elephant is tied with a little tiny string. He could walk away, right, but he's stuck there, and he looks like he's not moving; he's stuck in this place. But there are so many things he can do to change his environment. And so, so often, especially when I'm talking with students or over the course of my career, when people -- when I'm working through problems with people or walking things out with them, it's just changing your perspective.

Just because you're facing a problem and you find that there's one solution for it, there's alternatives, and it's about removing those blinders and kind of looking at what -- okay, well maybe this -- maybe this way isn't working; what's a better route? How can we, you know, remove ourselves or change the trajectory of this experience? And that's where, you know, talking to somebody or asking for help is important because it's kind of working through those different options is what helps us get out of that learned helplessness, that space. And this also kind of chimes into being okay to say I need help, you know. Sometimes learned helplessness is shutting out our resources and not utilizing what's before us to help provide us support. And it could be for a number of reasons. We could have been let down before, we've been rejected, we've been denied, we've been talked about and ridiculed because we needed help or because we sought help, and it just keeps us in that space of not wanting to reach out to others or not want to use our support system, or kind of shutting our family and friends out because we feel that we're going to be a burden on them or we're going to be something. And so, learned helplessness is also getting out of the mind frame of I have to do everything on my own or I won't be able to succeed. It's also realizing, hey, there's help out there, there's support out there, and I need to work on assessing it and utilizing it. And if we feel like there's no support, then trying to understand ways to be able to employ some support in some way.

Exactly. Knowing when to ask for help is huge. And so often [inaudible] or that ego or whatever it may be where we can do this on our own. But sometimes just asking for a little bit of guidance is totally the best -- the best and quickest way to kind of -- to change your experience. Yeah. I can also relate that to myself, because, you know, I started my job here at Dallas College in the middle of COVID and in March, and I hadn't had an opportunity to affiliate myself with the campus and get to know students and get to know other faculty and staff, and I kind of got put in a position to be able to rely on others to help me do my job because I wasn't able to do a formal training, as most people would have done. And so, it kind of was frustrating a little bit in the beginning, especially getting affiliated with the Higher Ed Case Management Program that's up and coming that is still in the process of reaching their goals. And so just having to rely on others and ask questions and be in a vulnerable state, you know, it caused a little bit of anxiety. However, you know, I learned that the other -- these people are also going through anxiety trying to figure out how to do their jobs and do other people's jobs and still, you know, maintain, you know, that poise that you're supposed to maintain at work and in the midst of a pandemic.

And so, just being able to understand that aspect of it has lessened that anxiety for me. And that does bring me to the next point, which is symptoms of depression. Feelings of sadness, loss of appetite or overeating, diminished interest in participating in activities that were once enjoyable, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, decreased energy, thoughts of suicide or increased thoughts about death, stark change in physical activities and movements, such as prolonged pacing or shaking one's leg, persistent headache, stomach aches, or muscle pain. And these are just some of the symptoms of depression. I think one thing that we have to understand about ourselves is that depression, when we are faced with depression, different situations will bring out different symptoms, and different people will bring out different symptoms of depression. And so being aware of what they are is very important factor in actually identifying what it is. And normally, when you identify what it is when you can start to produce the solutions to fix it or to help that situation. And so, knowing what your symptoms are, knowing when you're in a funk, or knowing when, you know what, I need to call a friend or I need to call a family member; I really need help. Or, you know what, I need a break from the kids; I just need an hour of time, like just to step away from the kids. And knowing that is really crucial in being able to help get yourself to a point where you're not having those thoughts of suicide, where you're not having those thoughts of wanting to harm yourself or others. And I think that's really important right now, during this pandemic, because having the same amount of stress that you had before the pandemic and then throwing the pandemic on top of that, we have -- some of us have completely lost ourselves, or some of us have completely have symptoms that we've never felt before.

We felt ways that we never thought we would feel, considering all of the stress and all of the trauma that we've faced during this pandemic. And then having to get up and face the possibility of a new president or a new politicians, or new electorals in our -- in positions of power over us and seeing how things have gone throughout the year, it's very, very nerve racking and the reason why I bring that up is because that's a reality of what's going on right now. And with knowing that and also with the other symptoms that we're facing, or the other things that we're facing in our lives, it's important to understand and realize how our reactions are to those type of situations and understand that, you know, if you're having those feelings of sadness or if you're having loss of appetite or overeating or trouble sleeping, then maybe that's an opportunity for us to employ a solution and understand, you know, be easy on ourselves and to practice our self-care and practice our coping skills and maybe even take a day off work or do whatever we know that we can do to help in that moment. And so hopefully those little things that we do to put in our day to help in that moment, hopefully have a long-term positive effect and benefit towards us as we go through these times. And then, obviously, you know, if you're having thoughts of suicide, you know, we encourage you to always reach out to someone and always to rely on someone and share those thoughts with someone, so that way you're able to get some type of intervention. And these symptoms of depression is just one way of realizing, hey, you know, now is an opportunity for me to work on some of the things that are stressing me out, so that way I'm not feeling as stressed and maybe cutting some of those errands out of the end of the day or maybe going to bed an hour earlier, or maybe relying on a babysitter for our children, just to help us get to that point where we're not feeling below water. Selfish.

So, talking about symptoms of depression and ways to mitigate that, we always want to talk about self-care. Self-care is a term that we've been using a lot lately. We talk about it in almost every one of the trainings I've been in over the years and it's just a means of realizing that there are things you can do for yourself, within yourself, to help care for yourself. And so, when you're practicing self-care, remember that it's not selfish, that you're not selfish and that you are in a place where you're having to practice these things to be a better self for other people. And so, if you're not a better self for your own self, then you can't be that person for others. And we hold many hats; we're daughters, sons, we're husbands, we're wives, we're parents, you know, we're family members or friends, we're coworkers. You know, we're community leaders, we're counselors, we're therapists, we're social workers, we're teachers. So, we hold many, many hats. And so, if we're not working on ourselves to the point where we're doing little things throughout our day or throughout our week to help us feel more at peace or more at ease, then we're doing the people that we love a disservice. And so, this pictogram just displays some of the types of self-care and a lot of times we think we can't practice self-care because we're at work. No, you can, honestly, because where it says work, you're talking about time management, we're talking about producing work boundaries, which could mean after hours we're turning our phones off or we're not checking our emails or really taking our time off.

We're talking about a positive workplace. So that could be to limit some of the gossip that we partake in to keep that morale in the office positive. More learning. So even being on this training today is an opportunity for us to practice self-care, because we're engaging in a learning activity, we're engaging in an opportunity to share information and to receive information regarding things that are -- that would -- that are here for the betterment of our mental. And then we're also talking about taking our breaks and our lunch hour. Are we eating? Are we working through our lunch hour, our break time, just because we want to seem dedicated? And again, in those moments, you have to ask yourself, am I doing myself a disservice by being overly dedicated to the point where when it comes down to it I'm actually not 100% there because I have overextended myself, and so now I'm either cranky, grouchy, or I'm not on top of my game because I've spent 12 hours working on a Monday and then Tuesday I don't have the eight to give that we're supposed to be giving. So, just realizing those things and also not being so hard on yourself. And so, when you're thinking about all the ways that you could practice self-care, so don't think about it in a way that overwhelms you, just think about just a little thing that you can do. Like, you know what, I'm going to turn the TV 30 minutes earlier today and I'm going to get some rest. And that's practicing self-care. Hey, I'm going to make my meals at night, so that way I have lunch for tomorrow to take to work; that's practicing self-care. And so, these types of self-care, and we're going to briefly go over them. So, physical, obviously, we all can probably use a little bit more physical activity.

I'm guilty of not using as much as I should. So, getting a good night's rest. I am big on talking about sleep, and I know I need to practice what I preach, but sleep is the blueprint to your day, like literally; it maps out your day, and if you're not getting that good rest at night how are you going to be the best mom, how are you going to be the best dad, how are you going to be the best coworker, the best employee? How are you going to do that if you literally didn't even give yourself the opportunity to restart and refresh your day by getting a good amount of sleep or good sleep or, you know -- obviously, we can't control how our night or our days go every day, but just being intentional about your rest at night, because that literally sets the foundation for the next day. Emotional, how do we practice self-care when we're going through a divorce or we're going through a break-up or we're having troubles at work or we're having issues within our households? Managing our stress, being honest about what you can and cannot deal with at that time, and being vocal about that, being emotionally mature. I think emotionally mature is a term that is so vague, but I think, in my explanation, emotionally mature means being able to realize that some things are not personal. Some things are because other people are going through their own battles and it just happens to be that you're in the crossfire, and that's just practicing emotionally mature on a basic, basic level. Forgiveness, and I like that they say forgiveness because I do believe that if we practice forgiveness more, that we're able to clear some space in our mind and our hearts to move forward, you know, and however that looks for you, you know. Practicing compassion and kindness, and I think we've all had to kind of humble ourselves in this pandemic and through this situation because we've had to realize like we're not the only one going through the pandemic, you know.

Our neighbors are going through the pandemic, our friends are going through the pandemic, our coworkers are going through the pandemic, and it's like, yeah, we all got some type of struggle as a result of that. And so we have to humble ourselves and practice compassion and kindness because it's not just all of our problems right now; it's about everybody and it's about, you know, hey, you know, staying safe and staying healthy and thinking about a neighbor, thinking about our friends and thinking about our coworkers as we continue to go through this trying time. And so, continuing on with self-care, Social, practicing boundaries, utilizing your support systems, utilizing good communication skills, as well as maybe taking a break from social media. And then spiritual, if you practice some type of spirituality, so people use it as a form of grounding or as a foundation. And so, you always have something to rely back on. And then obviously, you can practice meditation, mindfulness, yoga, being one with nature, deep breathing. Those are some of the things that we can do within ourselves to help give us that foundation and keep us grounded. And a lot of us are saying, well, that doesn't work for me and I tried it once and it wasn't a good experience. But sometimes we don't realize that, you know, we have to continuously work at things in order to adopt them as a habit and make it a positive habit. And so, with deep breathing, you wouldn't think that taking a deep breath would help you, but honestly, it has benefits to your overall systems. And so, slowing down your heartrate, allowing your mind to clear can give you that space and that time you need to produce that new idea or to just get some time away from that stress, tension that you're feeling in your mind and your body. And so, then obviously, what our personal, and for the next pictogram it says personal, and so practicing our hobbies, knowing yourself, getting to know yourself, now you're knowing yourself, you're getting to know who you are in the pandemic.

And so, your personal identity and being one with that. And then honoring your time alone. So, some of us feel like, you know, we don't get alone time. But then that five minutes that we are alone in the car, that's our alone time and that's probably all we have because we've got to go tend to the kids. And so just honoring that and just actually changing your perspective about that time, not the amount of time, but the fact that you have the time. And then space, and so do you feel safe? Do you have a healthy living environment, security, and stability? And just being organized and keeping a clean space can also keep our minds clear and that can also be another form of self-care. And so I hope that this was helpful because this is just an opportunity for us to change the way we think about self-care and understand that in each aspect of our lives, we can practice self-care and get on Google, get on YouTube and research some things and figure out what works for you; obviously everything won't work for everybody. There is something out there that will work and hopefully that will help you keep a sane mind and prevent you from getting to the point where you want to hurt yourself or others.

Speaker: Tashia Moore

Definitely. Those are great tips. And I think the biggest thing with self-care is that you don't have to do all of it at the same time, just little bits and pieces every once in a while. Because, again, it goes back to, you know, depression is a fatal disease, and so how do you -- how do you mitigate that? How do you -- how do you identify it before it gets to that point, or how do you -- how do you -- when do you ask for help? Can you change small things to change that impact on your life? Right. So that kind of leads us to the -- to the Higher Ed Case Management, and we're kind of bred from this idea that life is stressful, right, self-care is needed, depression happens, but mainly life happens. And so, everyone says ask for help when you need it. But how do you know where to go? How do you know who to talk to? And so, as a case manager or -- and let me back up a little bit. So, I really like in loco parentis. This idea is -- and this is why, as an institution, a lot of times we're like, well you don't need to be in my business. You know, why does my college need to know about my financial situation or why do they need to know this, whatever, right? So, a little bit of history. In loco parentis is Latin for in place of parent. And so, way back a long time ago, when institutions first started, or academic, you know, colleges first started, there was this idea that when a child -- well even a, you know, a young adult, went to college it was the college's job to kind of take care of that child in place of the parent. And so, with that came really strict rules, really strict everything and the students didn't like it. And so, then they're like, okay, we're not going to do in loco parentis anymore and that is whenever the bystander era happened.

And so what happened is that when everything was pulled back and colleges said, okay, we're not in charge of you anymore as students, we're just in charge of your academics, there was a -- and I don't know the details 100% on this story, but I know it was at A and M -- A and M and there was a big bonfire and there was some fatalities and students got really hurt and it came down to liability, well who was in charge of this and if the school knew about it and they knew that this was a dangerous situation, isn't it their duty to do something? And so, with that, they realized that there needed to be some type of compromise between the bystander and the loco parentis, which was -- they were two separate entities. And so, in that, all of the services that schools have, such as, you know, the OSL office and TRIO and DSO and all of those supports, the multicultural centers, the Connections program, the groups and all of the things that campuses have, that culture was created to provide that support for students. And so, one of -- this professor, I really like this quote from this professor, whenever he was talking about in loco parentis, he said, "My job as a teacher is not to guarantee your outcome, it is to provide reasonable opportunities to make choices for yourself. I am facilitating, not ensuring." And I really think that that goes across the board everywhere. It's up to you, and this goes beyond just college, right. It's up to you what you decide to take and what tools you decide to learn as you move through life, but you at least know where to go. And maybe you need a tune-up or whatever you need to learn a new tool, or you need some guidance. And so, the college, in itself, has kind of built this support system for students.

So, some of the rationale behind Higher Ed Case Management is that in 2019, and actually Dallas College participated in this data collection, 167,000 students were surveyed, and of those 39% said that they were food insecure in the past 30 days, 46% said they were housing insecure in the previous year, and 17 were homeless in the previous year. Those are huge numbers and huge margins. And what that shows us is that students are struggling. And what that also shows us is that if students represent that population that maybe isn't even in school, then we are all kind of struggling right now. And so, again, knowing how to navigate your struggles is important to not only your success, but your survival. And also knowing that people do care and that there are programs and there are avenues that whenever we go back to maybe that learned helplessness, maybe it doesn't mean it's going to be easy, but maybe it can be a little less hard if you could maybe -- if we could find a different avenue, a different direction. So, the definition of Higher Ed Case Management is that to serve our university and individual students by coordinating prevention, intervention, and support efforts across campus and community systems to assist at risk students and student facing crisis, life traumas, and other barriers that impede success. So, we walk it out with you. That's really what we do. We may not have all of the answers, but you -- but I know that we are persistent and we will help you figure out what maybe -- what that next step might look like, and follow up, and not just give you a phone number and a name, but say, hey, did they answer? Did this work for you? Have you tried this program at the school? We do that within our regular system.

Dallas College's system is also really huge and navigating that can be really overwhelming. And we also want to tie that into the Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, because, you know, obviously, we're here for student success. We want students to, you know, complete their coursework, want them to get good grades, we want them to feel connected to their college. We want them to feel supported. But sometimes you have to understand that if certain things are not met in a person's life, a student's life, that is really had to get to that point where we're actually able to complete our coursework and do it successfully. And so, this kind of just talks about the Hierarchy of Needs. Obviously, you know, the physiological aspect, just the art of breathing, you know, being alive, food, water, sleep, sex, homeostasis, excretion, and so those are interesting terms to describe your physiological state. Basically, the art of just being alive and being able to just take care of your basic, basic needs. And so, we haven't mastered that, then, you know, how are we going to get to a point where we're feeling connected to our coursework, we're feeling connected to our other, you know, our friends, our family members, our teachers, etc. in order to actually be successful in our classes. And so, then it talks about safety. And so, after physiological needs, we also need to feel secure, we need to feel safe, we need to feel safe within ourselves, we need to feel safe with where we are going to school, where we are as -- where we're living, where we're working. And so those are some of the basics of feeling safe.

The security of body, of employment, of resources, of morality, of the family, of health, of property. And so, if we're not feeling safe within our homes, within our work places, within, you know, our schools, then how are we going to get to that point where we're feeling connected to our coursework and even talking about going through a pandemic right now, that's a little notch on our safety. That's disconnecting us from that self-actualization piece where we're actually feeling connected to our coursework, to our degree paths, because our safety is being impeded, just the safety of health and the reasons why we're actually working from home or we're doing school from home and doing classes from home. And again, that's affecting some of our students at this time, and our faculty and our staff. And so then, after safety, it's love and belonging. Do we feel secure in our friendships, in our families, in our intimate relationships? And so that is also another checkmark that we have to check to feel -- to get to that point where we're actually able to reach our goals. And then we talk about esteem. Self-esteem. Are we confident? Do we feel like we're achieving our goals? Do we have respect of ourselves and others, and do we feel respected by others? And that's a very important in our need to basic survival so that way we can, again, get to our point where we're actually being able to achieve our goals. And then we get to that self-actualization piece.

We get to thrive in our creativity and our morality and be spontaneous and we're able to solve our problems and we don't feel prejudice or we don't feel judged, or we're not judging others and we are accepting that, hey, people are people and we're accepting the differences that come in our lives and trials and tribulations and we are practicing self-actualization. And so we've mastered the physiological piece, we feel safe wherever we are, we feel like we belong and we have that confidence in ourselves, and now we're able to achieve our goals, and now we're able to finish our coursework and now we're able to get to the point where we're feeling like, hey, you know, I'm actually in a good state of mind to where I feel connected to what I'm doing. And it takes a little bit of work to get to this point in our lives because these can fluctuate at any given time, you know, especially when we're going through a pandemic. Some of us lost our homes, some of us lost our jobs, some of us lost our means of eating in the drop of a dime. And so, we were in school, we were feeling connected, and we had our confidence, and then when our safety was threatened, we lost some of that physiological -- that physiological stability. And so, we just have to be mindful that this hierarchy of needs is something that we have to think about when we're serving our students because if they're not on the basis of feeling safe and secure at the lowest level, then they're probably not going to do that very well in classes. And if they are doing that well in classes and they -- and they're not having all of the security that we need to, you know, be successful, then we have to think about, well are they here with us, are they a part of reality? Do they have thoughts of, you know, suicide? Do they have thoughts of wanting to harm themselves or others? And so, even if they're putting on good grades and they're putting on a good face, but they're lacking some of these basic things, like esteem or belonging, we still may have an issue with that student.

We still may have an issue where we me have to intervene or we may have to employ some resources. And so, we just have to be mindful that with even all these things checked off and all these things being taken care of, we still can feel disconnected. And so, we just have to continue to utilize our resources, continue to stay connected to your other staff members who are touching these students and having contact with these students, and being able to communicate, you know. Hey, you know, I don't think the student is doing so well. Even when the grades are looking perfect or even when they're putting a smile on their face or even when they're seem like they're connected, we have to be able to take that extra step to say, okay, I don't know, something may not be right or maybe I should ask another question, or maybe I should, you know, reach out to the social services department, the case management department or the counseling department or the disability services department, just to see if there's something else that we can help the student with to keep them connected and keep them feeling like they belong and feeling like they are able to achieve their goals of wanting to finish their classes.

And I think this ties into also the Case Management program, the Connections program, because we're here to try to help address some of these physiological and these safety needs, and obviously with counseling we can address the esteem and the love and belonging piece of it. And so, we're wanting to help these students any way that we can, and obviously we continue to need resources and we continue to use external resources and hope the students will follow through, but our goal is to keep these students connected, to keep them alive, and to keep them in courses. And so that way, you know, we are successful in our efforts.

And I wanted to touch on the self-actualization. It actually has a definition here and it says, "A person's motivation to reach his or her full potential, as shown in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, a person's basic needs must be met before self-actualization can be achieved." And so, it's very important that we are, as an institution, recognizing that in doing what we can to address that and, especially during these uncertain times with the pandemic and our health being in question.

Speaker: Stephanie Harris

Absolutely. And I want to just do a little plug that, you know, while obviously Tashia and I work with students a lot. If this -- if this is a staff member or a faculty who is watching this presentation, show yourself a little grace as well, because living in this time of uncertainty and unknow, check in on these steps and see, are you feeling like you're safe, are you feeling -- check in on your own steps as well, because in order to help people you cannot pour from an empty cup, and you also need to -- and this goes back to self-care. But it all is layered and feeds off of each other. And for students as well, I mean, we have said there are plenty of supports available, but self-check-ins are also just as important. So, this is just a little bit more data around kind of the benefits of service because what it comes down to is data and numbers, right, always, that's what keeps programs going. And so, there is an estimated about 42% of college students do not complete their degrees. That is a lot of college students, and that's a number kind of across the board. And so, what they have found is, so case management started about 10 years ago in higher ed, and what they've found is that students who are at risk of dropping out, if they engage in case management services, they are two times as likely as their counterparts to reach that degree. We know that if you need to eat tomorrow and you have a shift that you could take in the morning, and even if you have a math exam, if you have babies to feed, you're going to make a decision, right? But if we can have -- but if you could figure out maybe how to move that math exam or where you could find food elsewhere or kind of work through those different things, the likelihood of you making that math exam is higher. And so that's where it kind of, it kind of comes down to is how do you meet that five-year goal whenever you're worried about tomorrow, right? How do you continue on that two-year path when next week you're not sure where you're going to be? And so that's where the need for having these services and having these connections and breaking down that stigma of saying it's okay to ask for help, it's okay to need help, so that you know where to go, so that in two years you've reached this goal, right.

Speaker: Tashia Moore

Right. So, with the Higher Ed Case Management, our program is called Connections at Dallas College. Yeah, so, we are a resource not a provider of counseling, but we do have counseling services at Dallas College. Each campus has a counselor or two or three that are able to take students at this time virtually. And so we don't want to diminish that piece, obviously, if you're having depression and all your needs are met but you're still, you know, having some depression, sadness, or just not mentally stable, we have a resource for counseling and so you can always utilize that resource; it's free of charge as long as you're a student or you're currently enrolled in courses. And so, but as far as Connections is concerned, it says, "When would a student need us? If a student is struggling to meet their basic needs, they would be a good candidate for services." And we get all types of referrals. We get referrals regarding not being able to eat or they're low on funds because of groceries, and of course things have been real -- really heightened because of COVID, because a lot of people have went from working 40 to 50 hours a week down to 15 to 10 hours a week, and so that's drastic in terms of your income. And so, we've helped students get food cards and Stephanie can you go to the next slide? Yeah, so we have the food pantry and the mobile pantry, which visits each campus on set days and times, and I think that information is posted on the website. And then we have applications for benefit assistance, financial assistance, equity, which is emergency care assistance, which comes in the form of funding, and so it can be for food, for daycare, for tuition, whatever it is that you need at the time.

We have resources for housing assistance, transportation assistance. I know at North Lake if you're a student you can get a Dart bus pass, which does run to the school even though we're not doing classes here, but it's just an option for you if you need to get around or just even get to the grocery store. We have medical resources, navigation and support, obviously advocacy. And so, if you're feeling disconnected from your teachers or if you're having an issue with reaching financial aid or if you need help from disability services, we can advocate for you and reach out to those other staff members and try to put a leg in to help you get the answers that you're needing. And then we also can connect you to internal and external resources at this time. And when you get connected to external resources, I know sometimes, you know, you may feel like oh they're just giving me another number to call or another website to look at or they're just giving me another thing to do, I've got to do another application or another explanation of what I'm going through. And sometimes you just have to change your perspective about that, because the means of doing that is for you to receive some type of help. And even if that help is another phone number, that next phone number, even though you're tired and you're overwhelmed and you're feeling disconnected, could be that phone number that you need to get the help that you need. And so, I know it's a little frustrating navigating services and agencies and having to call and explain your situation and having to do an application and then checking your email a week later to see if you got anything. It could be a little -- it can cause you to feel disconnected, it can cause you to feel down, and we want to just assure you that our hope is that we can connect you to something that can give you the service right then and there.

We want -- we want that to be able to happen, but obviously, you know, the way things work with agencies and service providers is they have a protocol and a lot of times that's the protocol and we just want to encourage you to just reach out when you're having frustrations and reach out when you're feeling, oh, you know, I can't believe they just gave me another phone number to call, so we can just continue to help you and guide you through that process. We don't want you to -- we don't want to leave you stranded. We don't want to leave you feeling like we don't care about your needs or your wants and we want to be able to help you. And so, when you're having those frustrations, talk to us, reach out to us, so that way we can continue being that, you know, the advocacy that you're needing and continue to help you and try to get you connected as quick as we can, as best we can. So, when to refer? You know, if you're going to, obviously, you know your situation best and so refer yourself if you need something, right? But if you're worried about somebody else, these are just a few of the things that sometimes will show if somebody's struggling. A drastic change in behavior.

If you're working on a group project with somebody and at the beginning of the semester they were on top of everything, really answering all their messages, you know, doing all their stuff, and then they said, you know, I picked up a second job and all of a sudden they're not really around anymore, they're not answering any of your -- any of your calls. They're not attending any of the group sessions. If -- but the professor says that they're still in class, then that's a drastic change in behavior; there may be something going on there. Any type of personality changes, lack of engagement, any aggression, absences, because of life stressors, right? If they said that they had to pick up another job because they didn't have financial support or because they lost their job because of COVID and the unemployment office isn't getting them -- getting back to them, you know, those are things that maybe just in passing you don't really think too much of, but if you're worried about somebody, it doesn't hurt to send in a referral. The worst that happens is they know that somebody cares, right? And the best that happens is there is something going on and you were able to get them connected.

Speaker: Stephanie Harris

As Tashia said we do have transportation, all of Dallas College students have access to bus passes every semester. And oftentimes students aren't aware of or they heard about it on orientation, but they were getting so much information on orientation day they forgot. And so, there's things available that people don't access, or they don't know how to or whatever it may be. So, it doesn't ever hurt to send in a referral on somebody. Yeah, and also, just send it. That could be the key to saving that person's life and just having someone reach out to them, even if they don't really need food or a bus, like they just need someone to check on them or talk to them in that moment. And so, just send the referral in, even if you're unsure, oh, I don't want them mad at me, they think I'm telling their business. No, because at the end of the day, like you said, the worst that can happen is somebody cares. Like they know that somebody cares, they know that somebody's looking out for them, that they're paying attention to their moods and their attitudes and sometimes that's all we need to get that leg in and to help keep us off the ledge. And so that's we're able to meet our goal. We want to keep people alive; we want to keep people in classes, we want to keep people connected and we're doing -- we're trying to do above and beyond because everybody is [inaudible] right now. And so, if you're not sure or if you have a question about something, send it. If you feel like, oh, I don't know if they need help with that, send it, you know. Send that referral in.

Speaker: Tashia Moore

Absolutely. Our website is ever changing and ever growing, but this is the best way to find out more about the Connections program and to submit a referral, just DCCCD.edu/connections, and it has all of our information up there. And you-if you needed to have any -- if you had any other questions or concerns you can always reach out to us via email. We are working on getting a Connections email box so that way we have someone monitoring it at all times, and know that, you know, each individual counselor and social worker gets busy with their work load but we want to be able to assist students as best we can to get them to that next resource. So, do not hesitate to reach out to us via email or you can just submit a Connections referral and say hey, we have additional questions, and so we will definitely reach you. And we try to get a turnaround time between 24 to 48 hours, or even the same day and goal and we're working towards that goal every day.

Speaker: Stephanie Harris

Absolutely.

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Speaker: Tashia Moore

Well, thank you all for joining us.

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