Policy for responding to threats or harm to self or others

Gardner-Webb University (GWU) recognizes that some students may face pressures coping with university life that could result in disruptive and/or threatening behaviors. To this end, GWU strives to create a climate where students are welcome to talk to counselors about personal problems and where referrals to mental health professionals are not stigmatized. This policy establishes the University protocols for responding to threatening student behaviors..

I. Referrals

A. Threatening Behaviors
For purposes of this policy, threatening behaviors refer to student behaviors that may be life threatening including but not limited to: suicide threats; suicide attempts; verbal threats; physical threats or unstable behavior.

B. Emergency
Any student, faculty, or staff who observes a student engaging in threatening behaviors that pose an imminent threat to life is obligated to immediately contact University Police for emergency assistance at (704) 406-4444 or 911.

C. Non-emergency
Any student, faculty, or staff who observes a student engaging in threatening behaviors that is not life threatening should contact and inform the Vice President of Student Development and Dean of Students and the Director of the Counseling Center.

  1. The Director of the Counseling Center or counseling staff member will meet with the referred student and decide as to whether or not a counseling services referral is needed. The Dean of Students will be notified of the decision.
  2. Counseling services referrals may consist of:
    • An emergency evaluation at an off-campus facility (Atrium Health Cleveland)
    • An evaluation for an off-campus appointment with a psychiatrist or psychologist.
    • Other appropriate treatment.

II. Notification

A. Student
The Vice President of Student Development and Dean of Students and/or the Director of the Counseling Center will provide the student who is referred for threatening behavior with information that will include the following:

  1. Reference to the incident in which the student engaged in threatening behavior.
  2. Any required psychological evaluations.
  3. Requirements for return to campus.

B. Parental
The parents/guardians of a student will be contacted if a student engages in life threatening behavior.

III. Emergency Hospitalizations

A. Transportation
An ambulance or a family and/or friend will transport a student who engages in life threatening behavior to the local hospital Atrium Health Cleveland.

B. Hospitalization
If a student is admitted to the local hospital

  1. A University counselor will go to the hospital to contact the student.
  2. A University counselor may also provide counseling support services to the hospitalized student’s roommate or others who were present or affected by the incident.
  3. The hospitalized student will be asked to sign a Release of Information form to permit the hospital to share medical information with the University and to contact the GWU Counseling Center when discharge is expected.
  4. The hospitalized student will be asked to contact his/her parents or guardians. If the hospitalized student is unwilling or unable, the Dean of Students (or designee) will contact the hospitalized student’s parents/guardians to notify them of the incident.

C. Further Assessment and Treatment

  1. The Cleveland County, NC Sheriff’s Department will normally transport a hospitalized student to another facility if the hospital medical staff determines that the hospitalized student needs further assessment and treatment.
  2. The hospitalized student is responsible for informing his/her professors of the medical-related absences.
    • The GWU Counseling Center will assist a student in contacting professors about the medical-related absences if needed

D. Discharge
Prior to discharge, the Director of Counseling Services must be notified by medical personnel of the hospitalized student’s status, including a confirmation as to whether or not the student is able to return to campus, live on campus and recommendations for any follow-up treatment.

  1. The hospitalized student will be advised of the campus procedure and documentation required to return to classes and residence hall, if applicable.

IV. Conditions for Return to GWU and/or Residence Hall
After being separated from the campus for threatening behavior, students must complete the following conditions to be cleared to return to classes and/or a residence hall:

A. Meet with the Dean of Students and Director of the Counseling Center to submit documentation from a mental health professional confirming whether or not: the student is no longer a threat to himself/herself or others; can safely participate in his/her academic program and/or resume independent living in a residence hall.

B. Schedule an appointment with a mental healthcare provider and make an immediate appointment with a University counselor or make an off-campus appointment with a psychologist for continued counseling support.