RESPONSE TO EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL CRISES
Where to turn:
College students sometimes experience emotional crises that might affect their functioning and behavior. When this occurs, the student is strongly urged to seek assistance at Counseling Services. Counseling Services can provide confidential counseling and therapy, psychiatric services and referral. Counseling Services may only share confidential information about a student with other College personnel or the student’s parents without the student’s permission if it is deemed that the student presents an imminent harm to others.
• To reach Counseling Services during regular business hours, please call (240)895-4289
• After regular business hours during academic terms Counseling Services staff may be reached by contacting a member of the Residence Life Staff or Public Safety at (240) 895-4911.
Other local crisis services include:
• Walden 24-hour Helpline – 301-863-6661
• St. Mary’s Hospital – 301-475-8981
• Calvert Memorial Hospital – 301-475-5250
Occasionally students are unable or unwilling to seek voluntary help for their emotional or behavioral problems. These situations may include suicide attempts, alcohol or drug intoxication which may require medical treatment, and/or an unwillingness to manage a chronic mental health condition appropriately. At times these crises might escalate to the point that the student is perceived to be a risk to the health and safety of the College community. At these times, the College may request that the student seek hospitalization and/or return home to be under the care of an off-campus mental health provider. If the student’s hospitalization or psychological treatment is short-term and he or she would like to return to campus to finish the term, it is important that the student inform the dean of students of his or her desire to return to campus so that the appropriate evaluation and support plans can be made.
The process for a return to campus after an emotional or behavioral emergency that has required College intervention is as follows:
1. Students grant a release of information to the director of counseling services or designee so that the information can be shared between the treating professionals.
2. The director of counseling services reviews information from treating professionals including a treatment summary and recommendations for future care. The director of counseling services will meet with the student and any appropriate individuals. After reviewing all information, the director of counseling services will make recommendations to the dean of students. The student may be requested to remain off campus until all requirements of the review are complete. The student will need to meet with, or be contacted directly by, the dean of students to learn his/her status and/or requirements to return to the campus community. No medical or mental health records are transferred to or shared with the dean of students.
3. The dean of students makes a determination about the student’s readiness to return to campus based on the information from all sectors and decides if there is a need for any required follow-up or accommodations.
4. The dean of students may determine that it is not appropriate for the student to return to campus under the following policy: Students may be disenrolled from the College or permitted to remain only under specific conditions when there is clear and convincing evidence that the student’s presence poses a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of others. A significant risk of substantial harm is a high probability of substantial harm – not just a slightly increased, speculative, or remote risk. Students may choose to take a voluntary leave of absence when the review indicates that the college environment is not a safe or therapeutically appropriate one.
Based on behavior that constitutes policy violation in accordance with the Code of Conduct, the College may determine it is not safe for the community to have the individual return to the college immediately following a psychological crisis and, based on behavior not illness, the student may be disenrolled from the college involuntarily.
The process for a return to campus after a leave of absence is as follows:
If a student takes a leave of absence from the College due to an emotional or behavioral concern, then the request for re-admission will be evaluated by the dean of students to determine whether or not the student is ready to return to school. The judgment of the dean of students is based upon documentation of the health and readiness of the student to return and the possible effect on the community. It is in no way a punitive process. Rather, it is an essential educative deliberation at the end of a usually difficult and disturbing experience for those involved. It is intended to be beneficial for all and deserves wisdom and compassion. As such, the process cannot be rushed. To assure adequate review and contact of all those needing to be involved, the necessary information must reach the College at least one month before re-admission is planned in order to allow for full consideration of the request. This would also give the student enough time to make plans for course registration and housing for the semester. The re-admission request includes the following:
- A letter addressed to the dean of students from the student describing his or her readiness to return to the campus, including his or her view of the problem’s origin, the ways that the student has sought to deal with the problem, and the student’s plans to prevent future emergencies when the student returns to campus.
- Students grant a release of information to the director of counseling services or designee so that information can be shared between the treating professionals and recommendations can be forwarded to the dean of students.
- Written report(s) from treating mental health professional(s) sent to the director of counseling services, fax: 240-895-2239. The report(s) should address the following:
a) Presenting complaint(s), symptoms and diagnoses.
b) Treatment course, including response to treatment.
c) Recommendations for continued treatment, including medications if applicable. Counseling Services does provide follow-up counseling and transitional psychiatric care. However, it should be noted that these are short-term services and are not a long-term resource. Students needing long-term care are encouraged to work with Counseling Services to identify providers from the outside community who can meet their needs.
d) A clear statement from the treatment provider that the student is ready to return to the campus environment and live independently.
e) The potential for harm, of self or others, needs to be addressed in the report.
It is very important that the student share this requirement with his/her treatment professional(s) during their initial meeting and go over the components of the report before the evaluation is sent to the director of counseling services (fax: 240-895-2239). If this information is not comprehensive and thorough, then there may not be time for the director to make a responsible recommendation to the dean of students to permit the student’s return for the requested semester.
The director of counseling services will review these reports and consultations as well as the letter requesting re-admission. He or she may call for a personal interview (face-to-face, or by telephone) with the student to further assess the situation, request additional documentation with consent to speak to the off-campus provider and, in some cases, may discuss the issues with parents or family. The director will then make a recommendation to the dean of students.
The dean of students will review the information provided and may seek further input (for example, from Residence Life, Public Safety, Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, the student conduct officer, the student, etc.), depending upon each particular situation. When the dean is assured that the student is reasonably stable and is fully ready and able to handle the psychological, academic, and social pressures of college life, the dean will re-admit the student under conditions deemed supportive. If the dean of students does not judge that re-admission is appropriate at this time, then he or she will specify reasons for the decision and what is needed for future consideration.