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Mental Health Emergencies

 

If you are experiencing an emergency:

  • dial 911
  • call the UB Police Department at 410.837.5520
  • or report to your nearest emergency room.

We're here to help.

In the event of a mental health emergency:

  • If it's a life-threatening emergency, contact the UB Police Department at 410.837.5520.
  • If it's not a life-threatening emergency (such as emotional distress), contact the Counseling Center at 410.837.5159.
  • After hours (after 6 p.m. or before 9:30 a.m.): Call 911, contact the UB Police Department at 410.837.5520 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.

Suicide help:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.8255
24 hours, toll free

A mental health emergency (or crisis) occurs when someone's mental or emotional condition results in behavior that poses an imminent danger to that person or to someone else, whether that danger is life threatening or not.

In either case, emergencies should be taken very seriously, and immediate attention is required.

  • What are some indications that a mental health emergency is occurring?

    • exhibiting suicidal intentions, plans or attempts
    • exhibiting homicidal intentions, plans or actions
    • loss of contact with reality, which may include hallucinations, delusions or extremely abnormal behavior causing a campus disturbance or disruption
    • disorientation, extreme confusion, unresponsiveness, uncontrolled behavior, extremely irrational or incoherent speech
  • Warning signs of suicide

    • situational: stressful or traumatic experience
    • depressive: changes in usual behavior; inability to concentrate; socially withdrawn, easily agitated; apathy, crying, sense of worthlessness; appears sad; abusing substances
    • verbal signs: direct or indirect, verbally or in written material (e.g., assignments, papers, etc.)
    • behavioral: giving away possessions, writing a suicide note, acquiring means to commit suicide, organizing business and personal matters, suddenly resigning from organizations or clubs

    Look for a cluster of clues. A suicidal person who gives warning signs will most often present more than one clue.

    When the situation is not clear:

    • share your concerns with the student directly
    • consult a mental health professional, such as a staff member at the Counseling Center.
  • Do's and don'ts in responding to warning signs of suicide

    • DO show that you take the student's feelings seriously.
    • DO let the student know that you want to help.
    • DO listen attentively and empathize.
    • DO reassure that with help, he or she will recover.
    • DO stay close until help is available or risk has passed.
    • DON'T try to shock or challenge the student.
    • DON'T analyze the student's motives.
    • DON'T become argumentative.
    • DON'T react with shock or disdain at the student's thoughts and feelings.
    • DON'T minimize the student's distress.
  • Tips for recognizing troubled students

    At one time or another, everyone feels depressed or upset. However, there are three levels of student distress that, when present over a period of time, suggest the student's problems may be more serious.

    LEVEL 1
    Although not disruptive to others in your class, these behaviors may indicate that something is wrong and that help may be needed:

    • serious grade problems
    • unaccountable change from good to poor performance
    • change from frequent attendance to excessive absences
    • change in pattern of interaction
    • marked change in mood, motor activity or speech
    • marked change in physical appearance

    LEVEL 2
    These behaviors may indicate significant emotional distress or a reluctance or inability to acknowledge a need for personal help:

    • repeated request for special consideration
    • new or regularly occurring behavior that pushes the limits and may interfere with class management
    • unusual or exaggerated emotional response

    LEVEL 3
    These behaviors usually show that the student is in crisis and needs emergency care:

    • highly disruptive behavior (hostility, aggression, etc.)
    • inability to communicate clearly (garbled, slurred speech, disjointed thoughts)
    • loss of contact with reality (seeing/hearing things that are not there, beliefs or actions at odds with reality)
    • overt suicidal thoughts
    • homicidal threats
  • What you can do to help

    Responses to Level 1/2 behavior (see tips above):

    • Talk to the student privately when you both have time.
    • Express your concern in nonjudgmental terms.
    • Listen to the student and repeat the gist of what the student is saying.
    • Clarify the costs and benefits of each option for handling the problem from the student's point of view.
    • Respect the student's value system.
    • Ask if the student is considering suicide.
    • Make appropriate referrals if necessary.
    • Make sure the student understands what action is necessary.

    Responses to Level 3 behavior:

    • Stay calm.
    • Call the UB Police Department at 410.837.5220.
  • When to make a referral

    Although a student may ask for your help with a problem and you are willing to help, certain circumstances may require you to suggest other resources:

    • You are not comfortable handling the situation.
    • The help necessary is not your expertise.
    • Personality differences may interfere with your ability to help.
    • You know the student personally (friend, neighbor, friend of a friend) and think you may not be objective enough to help.
    • The student is reluctant to discuss the situation with you.
    • You see little progress in the student.
    • You feel overwhelmed or pressed for time.
  • How to make a referral

    • Be frank with the student about the limits of your time, ability, expertise and /or objectivity.
    • Let the student know that you think she or he should get assistance from another source.
    • Assure him or her that many students seek help during the course of their college careers.
    • Assist the student in choosing the best resource.
    • Try to help the student understand what to expect if she or he follows through on the referral. Consider these questions before making the referral:
      • What are the appropriate and available resources for the student?
      • With whom would the student feel most comfortable?
      • Who will make the initial contact: you or the student?
  • Consult with us

    If you have concerns about a student, counselors at the University of Baltimore Counseling Center are available for consultation. We help by:

    • assessing the seriousness of the situation
    • suggesting potential resources
    • finding the best way to make a referral
    • clarifying your own feelings about the student and the situation.