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Faculty and Staff Concerned About a Student

While I did not anticipate that supporting student mental health crises would be a part of my job, it has sadly become a recent enough occurrence so I am well-practiced in being empathetic and referring students to the appropriate resources.

Professional Track Faculty Member, December 2019

As a professor and also as a father, I really appreciate the outreach the BETA Team does for our students. It makes me feel very good about this University.

Professor, November 2019

I am very proud that Maryland takes concern for students seriously and that you connect with faculty about students!

Professional Track Faculty Member, September 2019
  • Did a student disrupt your class in an alarming way?
  • Did a student send you a disturbing email or write something worrisome on an exam?
  • Do you feel threatened by a student?

Trust your instincts. You don't need "proof" or "evidence" that something isn't right. Say something right away- do not wait! We are all responsible for a safe and academically productive campus.

Call 911 or the University Police at 301-405-3333 in emergencies: weapons, violence (including suicide threat or attempt), or property damage. When in doubt, make the call.

Call the University Police non-emergency number at 301-405-3555 to talk about the situation. The University police officers in the Department of Public Safety never consider it a bother if you contact them.

By providing you with this information about the BETA Team, we do not mean to imply that faculty or staff should not directly interact with the student you are concerned about. In fact, oftentimes, a faculty or staff member who already knows the student (such as yourself) can be very effective in asking questions such as "Are you okay?", "Can we talk about this?", "I have noticed you have been absent from class a lot, can I offer you resources on campus to help?" You may also consider emailing the student and/or calling the student on their cell phone to inquire about a student's well-being and academic progress. If you want to talk directly to the student but might like a bit of guidance or ideas for what to say, call us in the Counseling Center (301-314-7651) or call the BETA Team chair or case manager (301-314-BETA).

If you decide to report your concern to the BETA Team:

Most people reporting give their names and contact information, but you may remain anonymous.

Almost all reports contain the name of the student of concern, but if you withhold the student's name, give us your contact information. We'll give you advice and resources to help you engage with the student. Else, there is nothing we can do with your report.

No matter where the student is, if he or she is a University of Maryland student and you are concerned, contact us. We respond to all reports about University of Maryland students whether on our campus, off-campus, in another state, or abroad.

You won't want to regret ignoring a worrisome situation. When in doubt, report it. Let us know you aren't sure how serious the situation really is, or you want us to have a "heads-up" in case things get worse. If it ends up that your report was unwarranted, you would know that at least you didn't stand by while someone might have been in need. And you may not think you have all the information you need to make a report, but go ahead and report what you do know; we'll take it from there.

The BETA Team reviews the report of concern, checks to see if the student is exhibiting concerning behaviors in other areas on campus, learns more about the student's experience on our campus, and develops a strategy to support the well-being and academic success of the student. It determines if the BETA Team is the best method for responding to a reports of concern. For example, a report may be re-directed to the Counseling Center's Dyad Liaison Team (whereby individual psychologists are assigned to counsel with specific campus units) when that course of action is deemed most appropriate.

Often, a member of the BETA Team will contact the student directly but sometimes, the BETA Team will guide a faculty or staff member in interacting with the student if that person is on a familiar basis with the student. When BETA members reach out to students, they do so from their area of expertise and identify themselves by their University title not as members of the BETA Team. The BETA Team typically does not identify the person who made the report; we try to to keep that information private.

We seek to connect with students in appropriate ways specific to their needs. The BETA Team itself does not discipline, impose sanctions, or provide or mandate treatment. However, individual members on the BETA Team do possess authority to take action as follows:

  • The University of Maryland Police have the authority to make arrests;
  • The Director of the Office of Student Conduct has the authority to suspend a student on an interim basis pending a medical evaluation or threat assessment by the police; and
  • The Director of Mental Health Services has the authority to transport a student for psychiatric evaluation and/or hospitalization.

We will acknowledge that we received your report. And we may be able to share with you the steps we are taking depending on the confidentiality issues of the situation. We view you as an ally in this process and so if you shared a concern and yet, given time, you continue to be worried about a student, we would appreciate hearing from you. Contact the BETA Team chair or case manager directly.

You are always welcome to directly contact departments that are part of the BETA Team:

  • I greatly appreciate everything that you have done and are doing to assist me and my student.
  • It was helpful for me to hear that not every concern is a crisis. I had a compassionate conversation with my student and then walked her over to the Counseling Center in Shoemaker.
  • Thank you so much for giving me additional resources if the need arises.
  • I really appreciate knowing that the BETA team both takes these issues seriously, and also provides occasional follow-ups in order to ease my worries. I have also stayed in touch with this student, and do my best to help in ways that I can.
  • Thank you for being a point person as the faculty in my department tried to make sense of a rather peculiar scenario.
  • I had a great conversation with the BETA Team and the student seems to have settled down since I talked with him.
  • I must say that my student’s behavior changed positively after implementing the suggestions you gave me. He cooperated and with small reminders, he remained on task. I think he'll be okay for the upcoming semester in his other classes.
  • I appreciate your help! I just wanted to help any small way that I could. Thanks for following up and making sure of her safety.

Resources are available for all UMD faculty and staff.

The 30- to 60-minute self-guided trainings help you talk with those exhibiting signs of psychological distress and motivate them to seek appropriate help. Through creative interactive role-play conversations with emotionally responsive avatars, you'll learn about best practices in supporting students struggling with psychological distress, including depression and suicidal ideation; student veterans facing challenges in adjusting to college life; and LGBTQ students who are struggling due to harassment or exclusion.

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