UW Police and UHS Mental Health Services Team Up to Help Students in Crisis
Starting October 4, an additional resource will respond with University Police to 911 calls on campus about students experiencing a mental health crisis: two mental health professionals trained from University Health Services (UHS). The role of mental health professionals will include transporting students to hospital as appropriate.
This partnership has been in planning since fall 2020 with consultation with the Mental Health Services Student Advisory Council, BIPOC Coalition and Madison Student Associates (ASM). In addition, ASM will fund a program vehicle to transport mental health workers.
This new approach is known as the “co-responder model”. This model is considered a best practice across the country and aligns well with the City of Madison’s Community Alternative Response for Emergency Services (CARES) program, which began September 1. Many other universities adopt similar co-sponsor practices. “This is a critical step in ensuring that students facing a mental health crisis – and those working to help them – know they will be taken care of,” says Sarah Nolan, Director of Health Services mental health worker and licensed psychologist.
“This is a partnership that we have cultivated for many years,” says Kristen Roman, head of UWPD. “While our officers receive initial and continuing specialized training focused on responding to mental health crises and will continue to do so, we understand that police intervention is not always the most appropriate option. Police departments across the country have long called for a more collaborative response to these difficult situations. I am happy that we can put this program in place here.
“I am delighted that UHS Mental Health Services is taking a step in this direction and will jointly respond to mental health appeals and provide transportation to hospital for some students,” said the president of the ASM, Adrian Lampron. “It is crucial that we support members of our community facing mental health crises by deploying mental health professionals. ASM committed to these ideas and set aside $ 3,284 in capital spending in our budget to implement a crisis response program on our campus. We will be able to use part of these funds to support the hospital transport program. “
Several UHS mental health clinicians will work in teams of two and accompany the UWPD on rotation on calls regarding the student mental health crisis. The program will start with two days per week and will run Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., depending on the availability of UHS staff. UHS and UWPD staff train together on how to provide acute care to people with mental health crises. The university will decide on future modifications to the program after evaluating the pilot project.
“This is an important partnership that will help people in difficulty. One call can make a difference, ”says Josie Montañez-Tyler, UHS Crisis Specialist who will participate in the co-responder model.
Montañez-Tyler and other UHS emergency response workers will also follow up on any students they encounter, to help them find additional resources. “We want to ensure continuity of care so that students can meet their needs,” she says.
If you are a student having a mental health crisis or have concerns about a student, call 608-265-5600, option 9. To access UHS mental health services, call 608 -265-5600 or log in to myuhs.wisc.edu or the MyUHS app to make an appointment. You can also submit a Student Concern form to the Office of the Dean of Students.