JT has always been a hard worker, even when balancing college and work has been stressful. However, shortly after the end of the year, JT’s family experiences the sudden death of his father. While he had had health issues, the family is not prepared for the loss, especially right after JT's grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins celebrated the holidays together. JT is very close to his family, and the thought of returning to his classes and continuing to work seems too much to bear.
Nonetheless, JT begins the new semester, but soon finds it difficult to get out of bed and go to class. Working is the only thing that he has motivation to do, perhaps because he needs to work to pay the bills. When JT feels well enough to go to class, he comes in late, loses focus during class, and forgets to submit assignments.
JT’s boss has seen no difference in his work ethic or behavior, but JT’s professors have noticed he is not performing well, and a few of them have reached out to find out what is going on. JT has ignored the professors’ emails and skipped appointments with his advisor to talk about his academic risk. Despite being encouraged to seek on-campus counseling, JT is convinced that he can get better on his own and doesn’t have the motivation to talk to anyone other than his family members who understand best what he is going through.
Let’s Think About It
JT has several options. Think through the consequences of each one, and choose the best option or create your own option.
- JT continues to deal with his depression and anxiety by missing classes and avoiding work with the hope that with time it will get better.
- JT talks to their professor about what he is going through to see if there is a way to get extensions on assignments.
- JT meets with a counselor to talk through options for improving his mental health that would involve additional costs including regular therapy and medication.
Let’s Talk About It
JT may feel uncomfortable expressing his mental and emotional needs—and he need not share personal health information with others if he does not want to—but he could communicate with those who are affected by his behaviors. Here are some suggestions for communicating with others about the dilemma that JT is facing:
- “I am going through some tough things right now and have not been myself. While I am very committed to my education, my actions are not in line with that commitment. I am struggling with how to get back on track.”
- “I have had some personal issues that have kept me from focusing on my course work. I am planning to seek some counseling and would like to talk about what steps I can take now, if any, to help me make up for lost time in the course.”
- “I want to share an explanation—and not an excuse—about my behavior in and out of class. I have been struggling with some family issues that have made it difficult to feel good enough to come to class and do the work. Do you have any advice for me or would you be able to talk to me about it at length?”
Whatever choice you would make in this situation, it is always best to communicate clearly your needs, your concerns, and even your uncertainties.