Is this an emergency? (Is someone unsafe?) How to get help immediately
How to tell if it’s an emergency
Signs of a mental health concern
Signs someone might be suicidal
Tips for talking to students who might have a mental health concern
How to make a referral to the Counseling Center
Consult with the Counseling Center
Privacy concerns for students
Privacy concerns for faculty & staff
For a mental health emergency
On campus call University Police at 607-436-3550
When the Counseling Center is not available call the
OTSEGO COUNTY MOBILE CRISIS ASSESSMENT TEAM 24-HOUR CRISIS SERVICES at
1-844-732-6228 (free & confidential)
For Crisis Counseling via Text: Text HOME to 741741
After business hours:
For a student on campus, call University Police (607-436-3550) to request help to evaluate the situation. UPD are trained to evaluate students experiencing psychological crises.
Call the Otsego County Mobile Crisis Assessment Team (MCAT) 24-hour crisis phone number (toll free) to talk with mental health worker 844-732-6228 or 877-369-6699
For a student who is off campus, call Oneonta Police Department (607-432-1113) to ask an officer to check on the student.
Serious illness or injury
During and after business hours
on campus, call University Police at 607-436-3550 or the Oneonta State Emergency Squad (OSES) at 607-436-3550 for transport to hospital. Information on when to call an ambulance and local urgent care services
For a student who is off campus, call 911.
Threatening or irrational behavior, crime in progress, sexual assault
If you are on campus call University Police at 607-436-3550.
If you are off campus call 911.
The SUNY Oneonta University Police Department is available 24/7. Officers are sworn state police officers with full arrest powers.
In cases of sexual assault, UPD officers can contact the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) to request the services of an advocate for the victim.
Non-Emergency Student Problems
During Business hours (8:30-12 and 1-4:30 Mon-Fri)
Call the Counseling Center at
*to assist the student in scheduling an appointment
*to say you’re bringing in a student
*to talk with a staff member about evaluating the student’s situation and identify appropriate action
Call the Office of Student Development at 607-436-2513 to talk with a staff member about your concerns.
Illness or Injury
Call or send the student to the Student Health Services
Physical, learning, or psychological disability
Contact Accessibility Resources at 607-436-2137 (133 Milne Library) to assist the student in making an appointment or to say that you are referring a student.
A situation might be an emergency if a student is suicidal or is a threat to someone else. It also might be an emergency if the student appears to be unable to care for themselves. In order to tell if it's an emergency, consider asking these questions:
- Are you feeling suicidal?*
- Do you want to hurt anyone else? (if the person appears very angry at someone else)
- I can tell you are very upset right now, what are you going to do when we finish talking?
- How have you been sleeping and eating?
- Are you going to classes? Getting work done?
We all may encounter students who are in distress and crying, but expressing distress doesn’t necessarily mean the student is in crisis or that this is an emergency. Asking more questions about how they are functioning can give you a better picture of whether they need immediate help.
*Asking someone if they are suicidal will not make someone suicidal, but if someone is feeling suicidal it can be very caring and supportive to ask because many people with suicidal thoughts want to tell someone but don’t know how. It might feel hard to ask someone if they feel suicidal but to someone who is suicidal it is a relief when someone asks them.
- Mood or personality changes
- Neglecting responsibilities – not going to class, meetings, internship, or work
- Withdrawing from friends, family, or their community
- Increased substance use
- Poor decision making – missed assignments or impulsiveness
- Decreased interest or motivation for academics or other activities
- Significant changes in eating or sleeping habits (too much or too little)
- Significant change in appearance
- Expressing (verbal or written) thoughts or threats about death, dying, or suicide
- Making statements about being a burden to others or experiencing unbearable pain
- Expressing hopelessness or helplessness, i.e. making statements such as: “There is no way out of this situation,” “There is no reason to live,” or “There is no purpose in life.”
- Preparation (writing good-bye notes, giving away belongings, looking for a way to kill oneself such as searching online or buying a gun)
What can you do if a student appears to be struggling with a mental health concern? Remember the three R’s:
Rapport, Recognize, and Respond.
- Establish a relationship with the student by getting to know them.
- Get Involved, be available, and show interest and support. Ask questions.
- Tell them you care by saying something like:
- “I care about you and want to get you help.”
- Be willing to listen and allow them to express their feelings.
- Be non-judgmental, don’t debate whether their thoughts or feelings are good or bad, just listen and ask questions.
Recognize (the signs):
- Ask questions about how they are doing academically, physically, and socially. Know the signs that a student might have a mental health concern
- Ask open ended questions such as:
- “What’s going on? How are you feeling? Tell me about it.”
- Say what you see.
- “You’ve been looking depressed lately and you don’t seem to be going to class very often.”
- If you are getting information that tells you they might not be safe or are distressed, ask:
- “Sometimes people who feel this way think about killing themselves, have you been feeling that way?”
- Choose a time and place to talk to your friend: Put down the phones & electronic devices and talk in a quiet, private place
- Say what you see: “You don’t seem like yourself lately” or “You seem down all the time” or “You haven't been going to class much and that’s not like you”
- Listen to them: without judging, don’t act shocked or surprised by what they have to say
- Be supportive and open: offer your help and hope
- How you can help: Ask them. Do they just want to vent? Are they looking for advice? If it’s a concern that’s over your head, that’s a good time to refer them for counseling.
- Suggest help: Say “I hear your concerns and want to help but I’m not sure how. Would you consider talking to someone who knows more about this kind of thing? Like the Counseling Center?”
- Invite them to discuss their hesitation: Its normal for people to be a little nervous about going to Counseling the first time. Ask about their reasons or worries about going to counseling and try to problem-solve it with them.
Here are some suggestions on how to address hesitations:
- I know someone who goes to the Counseling Center here and they said it was really helping.
- I think it takes a lot of courage to talk to a counselor and admire people who do.
- The counselors are nice people and it’s their job to help.
- Why not try going once or twice to see what it is like and if it might help? You can always stop at any time.
- The student gets to decide about what to share. They can ask questions and get info about options for counseling.
- Students can request a specific counselor, if that could be helpful.
- I could walk over to the CC with the student or suggest a trusted friend or roommate walk over with them. I can even go with you to the first meeting if you would like.
- I can see you are really suffering and what you have tried so far hasn’t worked. Consider trying something new. I don’t want you to hurt like this anymore.
Faculty and staff often have questions about confidentiality when they call the Counseling Center about a student they are concerned about. Here are a few common questions or concerns:
Am I permitted by FERPA to share information about a student with the Counseling Center?
Faculty and staff’s requirements for confidentiality of student information are dictated by the Federal Education Rights Protection Act (FERPA). If you have specific questions about FERPA you may contact the Registrar’s Office or see the Institutional FERPA Policy Statement. FERPA permits faculty and staff to share information about a student with other faculty and staff who have a legitimate educational interest. Therefore, telling the Counseling Center or the Behavioral Assessment Team about a student who is showing signs of a mental health concern is permitted under FERPA.
What will the Counseling Center do with the information I give them?
That depends. If a student is a danger to themselves or someone else, the Counseling Center will have to give the information to the Behavioral Assessment Team (BAT) or possible other college officials. Generally though, the Counselor will suggest some ways to help the student and present you with options for responding. Consultations are generally private but they may be shared with the Student Development Division if there is significant concern for someone’s health or safety. In cases that don’t involve a significant health or safety risk, the Counseling Center may discuss how the BAT team can help and give you the option of starting a BAT report on the student. The Counseling Center also keeps records of consultations in case the student comes in as a client.
What is the Behavioral Assessment Team?
The Counseling Center will share information with the SUNY Oneonta Behavioral Assessment Team if a student appears to be a danger to themselves or someone else. The Behavioral Assessment Team consists of professionals from the Counseling, Health & Wellness Center, Residence Life, Student Development Office, Office of New Students Services, Accessibility Resources, and University Police. When students are reported as showing signs that are concerning, the BAT team collects information about how the student is doing in the residence halls, classes, and in various other parts of campus. This helps the BAT team assess the student’s level of risk and support resources. The BAT team can then intervene and offer support to the student by asking key personnel to reach out to the student and offer to connect the student with campus resources. In extreme cases, where the student is clearly at risk of being unsafe, the BAT team can mandate that the student participate in a psychological assessment to make sure they are safe or take other steps to make sure the student is safe. The BAT team is part of our Student Development Division and therefore, FERPA permits any faculty or staff member to communicate any student concerns to the BAT team. The BAT team is not a judicial process and students are not penalized or punished for their mental health concerns. The BAT team’s purpose is to make sure the student is not at risk and to get help for students who may be showing early signs of concerns so as to prevent them from progressing to the stage where it threatens someone’s health or the student’s academic success.
Will the student get in trouble if I tell you about their behavior or concerns?
No. The Counseling Center will only communicate information about student mental health concerns to the Student Development Office, BAT team, or University Police if there appears to be a safety risk. Even if there is a safety risk, the student is not punished. But if someone is showing signs of risk to self or others, the student will be asked to participate in an assessment to make sure they are not at risk and to help connect the student to the appropriate resources. Even if you were to consult about a student with an alcohol or drug problem, that would not lead to judicial charges.
Will the student find out I called you about them?
Generally, the student will not find out that you consulted about them if you don’t want them to know. The exception is that if you report the student is suicidal or homicidal, we have to act to protect someone’s safety and the student may deduce who reported that they were at risk. Except in the cases of significant risk, the counselor will generally ask your preference in terms of with whom we might share the information, including the student. However, if you tell us something but you don’t want to student to know you told us, it limits what the counselor can do when he/she meets with the student. For the most part, even if the student finds out you consulted with the counseling center about him/her, consulting is an act of caring and most students come to understand that.