Counseling Center Student Safety Protocol
The Counseling Office provides students with an opportunity to explore their concerns and problems with a clinical therapist in a confidential setting. The counselors are available to all students during the academic calendar year. Students come to counseling with problems including interpersonal conflicts, anxiety, homesickness, family problems, depression and suicide, eating disorders, alcohol and drug issues, and emotional wellness.
Cottey College Student Life Department and the Counseling Office are also available to provide services to students in crisis. The behavioral intervention team consists of the Vice President of Student Life, Director of Housing, Coordinator of Counseling, Counselor, Student Health Assistant, and the Coordinator of Campus Activities. The team will be available to assess and provide supportive services for students at risk for harm and a safety risk assessment will be completed. An emergency can occur anytime. In some instances of severe emotional disturbance, immediate response is necessary for the well-being of the student and others. The Counseling Center provides 24-hour emergency crisis assessment and intervention throughout the academic year.
An emergency could include the following:
• A suicidal gesture, stated intention, or attempt.
• Behavior posing a threat to the individual.
• Behavior or stated intentions posing a threat to others.
• Demonstrated inability to care for oneself.
Any reference to a personal consideration of suicide, threat of suicide, or attempt at suicide should be judged as extremely serious, and referral to the Counseling Center is strongly advised. If the reference includes the how, when, where, or other specifics of suicide plans, immediate response is critical.
The primary campus resource for responding to mental health emergencies is the Counseling Center (x2157). A student who comes to the Counseling Center in crisis will be seen by a professional staff member immediately. Please contact the hall director, R.A. or peer listener on duty who will then make contact with the on-call counselor for after hours or weekend emergencies. Be prepared to provide as much information as possible, including:
• Name of the student, yourself, and your location.
• Description of the situation and the assistance needed.
• Exact location of the person.
When a referral is made to the behavioral intervention team , the counselor will complete a safety risk assessment. An assessment will be completed to determine if a psychiatric hospitalization to maintain the student’s safety is clinically appropriate. Cottey College has an ongoing relationship with the Nevada Regional Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Unit for assessment, admission, treatment, and follow-up services.
If the student is assessed not to be in imminent danger to self and others, ongoing out-patient counseling will be recommended and/or mandated by the Vice President of Student Life. If hospitalization is required, contact will be made to the parents or legal guardian by the counselor. The counselor will encourage the student to make this contact in the presence of the counselor. The Vice President of Student Life will also be notified. The student will be asked to sign a release of information to provide specific permission of whom to contact and what information to be provided. Appropriate staff and faculty will be contacted at the request and with the signed release of the student. If the student does not agree to a voluntary admission for hospitalization, steps will be taken toward a legal involuntary hospitalization through the hospital admission process to ensure the student’s safety.
With the student’s permission, counseling staff will remain in contact with the student during hospitalization to aid in discharge planning and continuity of care. Upon discharge, the hospital psychiatrist and treatment team will make recommendations if the student may return to campus with ongoing out-patient counseling if no longer in imminent danger to self and others. The Vice President of Student Life will be notified of the student’s return to campus.
Upon return to campus, the student will engage in counseling as recommended by the Cottey counselor and hospital treatment team. A safety plan will be identified and implemented. The counselor will document the safety plan and assist with development of short term and long term goals to aid in the personal and academic readjustment to campus.
Parents and/or legal guardians will be contacted only if the student is in imminent danger. However, students will be encouraged by the counselor to make contact with family members when in distress to broaden the student’s support network. The counselor will request a signed release of authorization to contact parents/legal guardians in some situations in which the student is experiencing self destructive or high risk behaviors that interfere with personal, social, and academic functioning.
Together the counselor and student will assess the need for a medical leave from the college. If deemed appropriate, the Vice President of Student Life will be notified to facilitate this leave for medical reasons with the Vice President of Academic Affairs.