Mental Health Crises
Anyone can experience stress associated with academic demands, family problems, social relations, work, finances and cultural experiences. The inability to cope with emotional distress can lead to disruptions in overall functioning.
Student counseling services
Students can seek help from Redfern Health Center's Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS). Appointments can be scheduled by phone or in person. To schedule an appointment for individual counseling, call 656-2451 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Emergency services are available on a 24-hour basis. During normal office hours you can call CAPS directly at 656-2451. After hours and on weekends you can call Clemson University Public Safety at 656-2222 and ask to speak with the CAPS on-call counselor. The dispatcher will take your first name and phone number and have the on-call counselor call you back.
Handling a crisis
Sometimes a person's usual coping skills are overwhelmed. The signs can include:
- Highly disruptive or aggressive behavior.
- Overt suicidal threats (written or verbal).
- Homicidal threats (written, verbal or a history of violence).
- Inability to communicate (incoherent, garbled or slurred).
- Loss of contact with reality.
If you have concerns that someone is experiencing such a crisis, call 911 to request assistance.
While waiting for aid to arrive (if you perceive no threat to yourself or others), you should:
- Provide a safe, secure, quiet environment.
- Invite the person to stay until help arrives.
- Listen actively and show empathy.
- Maintain a straightforward, supportive attitude.
- Don't leave the person alone unless you feel threatened.
- Don't try to restrain the person if he or she wants to leave.
- Don 't challenge or shock the person.
- Don't minimize the person's distress.
Suggestions for Referring Students Who Threaten to Harm Themselves or Others
- When a student lets you know that he/she is considering harming him/herself or others, consult with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 656-2451 as soon as feasible. For after-hours coverage and when the University is officially closed, access CAPS counselor on-call through CUPD 656-2222. If you e-mail CAPS, be sure and follow up with a phone call in urgent matters.
- The CAPS psychologist will advise you on possible actions to take. These may include: summon immediate emergency aid (calling 911), walk-over of student to CAPS, on-site visit by CAPS psychologist, or developing agreement for next day walk-over to CAPS. CAPS is located in Redfern Student Health Center across the street from the Hendrix Student Center.
- If immediate transport (911) is not indicated, you should contact the student and suggest you walk over to CAPS together at a specific time on the same day or the next morning.
- If CAPS walk-over does not happen:
Following the action taken, please notify the Dean of Students if you believe that office should become involved.
- Student refuses CAPS walk-over -- Notify the Dean of Students Office (656-0471) by telephone and explain the circumstances. Please do not send e-mail only. (Telling the student that the Dean will be notified if they don't show might assist in getting the student to go to CAPS voluntarily.)
- Student does not show up for walk-over, you should assess the need and take one of the following actions:
- Re-contract with the student for walk-over to CAPS,
- Call CUPD for welfare check (then facilitate the walk-over), or
- Dial 911.
- If student exhibits continued problems and/or does not follow-through on your recommendations for CAPS assistance, contact the Dean of Students Office (656-0471) immediately.
- Note that threatening harm to oneself or others is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. Threat of harm to self should be met with a referral to CAPS with confidentiality and compassion so long as the student follows your recommendation for assistance. Should the student not follow your (and CAPS) recommendations, the best course of action is to contact the Dean of Students so that the university regulations may be used to require the student to make use of university counseling and other resources for the sake of student and campus safety. Concerns that a student may be a threat to others should be addressed immediately.
Remember, making one CAPS referral does not guarantee that a student will use the services. Repeating the referral is important if there is any indication that the student's problems persist.
[Joy S. Smith and Raquel Contreras, April, 2007]