The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2 - 70

David Schmid * Jennifer Wagstaff

. . . the most important means of
enhancing helping skills included
self-knowledge through interaction
with others, hands-on practical
experience with students, feedback
and interactions with supervisors
and mentors, and knowing best
practices and current trends.

2017). Staff in residence life are responsible for
the day-to-day operations of the residence halls
for the more than three million beds. While
that position description appears to be straightforward, the job is anything but predictable.
On any given day, the job responsibilities could
entail mediating a roommate conflict, enforcing policies, or responding to a life or death situation. Common duties within residence life
include administration, mediation, group facilitation, conflict management, and crisis intervention (Protivnak, Paylo, & Mercer, 2013).
Because the residence hall setting is far more
relaxed than the classroom or administrative
office, the impact residence life staff have on
students is often immediate, as noted by Cox,
Reason, Nix, and Gillman (2016), who add that
students are more willing to engage in conversations about their personal problems within
this setting.
Reynolds (2013) surveyed entry-level
student affairs practitioners in order to determine their perceptions of college student
concerns. Stress management, time manage-

72

ment, anxiety, and transitioning to college
were the top four most frequent concerns. Additionally, five of the top eight most challenging student concerns were suicidal ideation
and behavior, stress and time management,
interpersonal conflicts, anxiety, and depression (Reynolds, 2013, p. 102). Student affairs
professionals who work outside the counseling center reported an increase in the need to
address mental health concerns with students
(Reynolds & Altabef, 2015). This is especially
true within residence life, where staff time
is devoted to helping students manage their
stress and, at times, major crises (Swanbrow
Becker & Drum, 2015).
Residence life staff are often the first to hear
about mental health issues because students
either self-report or a roommate or friend expresses concern (Paylo, Protivnak, Mi Choi,
& Walker, 2017). To effectively navigate this
role as a first responder, it is essential for residence life professionals to receive training in
helping skills. Reynolds (2017) emphasized
that developing crisis management and conflict resolution skills can help all student affairs
practitioners with many of the challenges they
face. From a historical perspective, residence
life staff have had minimal training in managing students in distress (Blimling, 2010;
Blimling, 2015; Reynolds, 2009). Knowing
that students do not typically seek counseling services unless it is mandated or they are
strongly encouraged by someone who expresses concern, it is especially important to train
residence life staff in helping skills (Eisenberg,
Golberstein, & Gollust, 2007; Paylo et al., 2017;
Reynolds, 2009). It is also important to recognize that "the helping roles and responsibilities
of student affairs practitioners are quite distinct

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING



The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2

Contents
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2 - Intro
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2 - Cover1
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