How to Respond to the Student in Crisis

Emergency situations are rare and can be ambiguous (uncertain) or imminently (clearly) dangerous. The primary campus resources for responding to mental health student emergencies are the Counseling Center (ambiguous situations) and the UCA Police Department (imminent danger).

Generally, a Psychological emergency involves one or more of the following conditions:
  • A suicidal attempt, gesture, threat, or stated intention
  • A homicidal attempt, gesture, threat or stated intention
  • Behavior posing a threat to self
  • Behavior posing a threat to others
  • Loss of contact with reality
  • Inability to care for oneself
In situations of imminent danger, immediate and decisive action is necessary. These simple guidelines will be helpful:
  • Stay calm
  • Call 9ll from a campus phone and provide as clear a description of the situation as possible
  • Make sure the staff is protected, following the department’s safety plan.
  • Inform your supervisor
  • Ensure that you are in a safe place to talk and that a co-worker is aware of your location
  • Use non-confrontational speech and try to defuse the situation
  • Do not try to remove the person from the area yourself; do not touch the student
  • Signal for help or excuse yourself from the situation to get assistance
  • Do not mention disciplinary action or police intervention if you re concerned about the person’s angry to dangerous response
In the event of an ambiguously dangerous situation
  • Stay calm, as this will help you respond more effectively, and also help to reduce the student’s anxiety or agitation
  • If possible, provide a quiet, private place for the student to rest while further steps are taken
  • Talk to the student in a clear, straight-forward manner
  • If the student appears to be dangerous to self or others, do not leave the student unattended
  • Make arrangements for appropriate intervention or aid
  • Phone consultation with a Counseling Center staff member is available at 450-3138 during working hours
  • You can walk the student over to the Counseling Center for an emergency consultation or appointment during the hours of 8:00 am – 4:30 pm.
  • Be prepared to provide as much information as possible about the student and the situation to the campus resource you contact