Behavioral Intervention Teams (CARE Teams) have been and are being created at colleges across the country to meet 3 basic needs that are found on each college:
· Concern for the well-being of individual students
· To identify/address/monitor concerning activity at lowest possible level, before it might become lethal
· Neither students with issues nor those around them perform optimally, affecting level of student success
Well-Being of the Student
The trends on colleges are:
· More students on college campuses are needing mental health services than in the past
· More students suffer from serious psychiatric disorder
· More of them are using psychiatric medicines
The result is that many of our students on our colleges today suffer from serious mental health needs:
· An American College Health Association Survey in 2008 found that 49% of college students felt overwhelming anxiety at some point, and that 30% of students had at some point in the last 12 months felt so depressed that they found it hard to function
· The Spring 2008 College Health Assessment found that 85% of students felt stressed on a daily basis and that 60% felt so stressed on one or more occasions that they could not get their work done
Directors of Counseling Centers across the country agree:
· For example, Centers at Dartmouth, MIT, Harvard, Florida, University of Chicago, Hofstra all agree
· All counseling centers are seeing more students, and the students have more serious issues, than ever before
Students with mental health issues need to be identified and connected to appropriate services.
Prevention of Escalation
In the Virginia Tech incident in 2007, which left 33 dead:
· The student had a history of mental health issues - professors/police/students had reported the student’s disturbing behavior, he was once committed to a psychiatric hospital, and there was a court mandate demanding care (he attended only 1 counseling session).
· The full picture was not assembled until after the fact, many believe that this could well have prevented the tragedy
· The Behavioral Intervention Team movement on colleges is committed to seeing that structures are in place to give the best possible opportunity to prevent another tragedy like this one
Earliest possible identification of troubled students, with appropriate services provided and follow-up monitoring involved, give us the best possible chance of preventing serious violence on our college.
Success of Students
Neither those with emotional issues nor those around them can focus properly on academic work:
· The Mental Health Association of Illinois has reported that without proper mental health treatment, mental health conditions may lead to poor school performance.
· Ken Duckworth, MD, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and Medical Director of NAMI (National Association of the Mentally Ill) warns us that undiagnosed mental illness can cause people to withdraw socially and drop out of school.
· Students often feel uncomfortable, concerned, or unsafe around behavior who is extremely aggressive, angry, bizarre, depressed, or withdrawn. Optimal learning cannot take place if a student is concerned about, or apprehensive of, a student in his/her classroom.
· According to research done by Marcy Levin-Epstein in 2007, if students are treated for their mental health issues they continue their education, and their grades and their outlook improve
Commitment to student success includes dealing with mental health issues of students in a manner which allows both the student and those around them to have the best possible opportunity for academic success.