College assesses mental health threats

At Brookhaven College near Dallas, a team of volunteers tries to assess potential threats, before it’s too late, reports Community College Times.

The college realized the need in October 2010, when Dallas police received a report that a student, possibly carrying a gun, had threatened suicide on campus. The student was found alive and at home and was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. But it turned out the student had told an adjunct instructor he was feeling suicidal and the instructor hadn’t reported it.

“We felt like we needed to have some sort of system in place to address when students are dealing with mental health issues, as well as other issues that could hinder the safety of students,” said Oscar Lopez, vice president of student services.

The CARE Assessment Team, which includes Lopez,  counselors, health professionals, college police, faculty and the human resources director, was formed to provide a “caring, confidential program of identification, intervention and response.”

Referrals can come from anyone —a professor disturbed by a student’s writings, or a student worried about something posted on a friend’s Facebook page.

Brookhaven also recently purchased Kognito at Risk software, which helps train employees to identify and refer students in mental distress. And soon, the college will launch an online referral form, allowing people to make confidential referrals more easily.

Each referral triggers an assessment of the student’s mental health and the potential risk to others. In most cases, the student is referred to the counseling center or disability services.  “If it’s determined that the student is a potential threat, the student will be directed to have a psychological evaluation with a mental health professional and possibly asked to withdraw from the college until he or she has gotten the needed help,” reports Community College Times.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON March 8, 2013

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[…] a Dallas community college, a team of volunteers assesses whether troubled students need counseling or psychiatric treatment. Most of those referred don’t turn out to be threats, but many could use some […]

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