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Crisis Response

The recent roll-out of the national 988 crisis phoneline has led to widespread reporting and public commentaries on mental health crisis response.  While the specific case of crisis response on college and university campuses has generally received less attention, most models and frameworks applied to general crisis response have also been implemented on campuses, including campus-based warmlines and campus-based mobile crisis outreach.  Similarly, problems widely identified in general crisis response, including police officers as first responders, are equally widespread in college and university contexts.


Specific priorities of the MHA – Bazelon – Pitt convening are to generate guidance and highlight gaps in each of the following areas:


  • Threat response protocols and policies (detection of ‘threat,’ response frameworks, student, faculty & staff training)

  • Protocols for reporting potential crises (involving self or others)

  • Comparison of initial contact options (e.g. campus warmlines versus traditional hotlines versus other initial contact mechanisms)

  • Response strategies (e.g. campus police officers versus co-responder models versus non-police mobile crisis outreach)

  • Protocols regarding the initiation of involuntary holds or detentions

  • Protocols regarding involuntary leaves of absence (temporary or long-term)

  • Ethnoracial, LGBTQ+, and disability-type disparities across all of the above


Resources & Further Reading

  1. On 988, Jess Stohlmann-Rainey (

  2. We Don’t Need Cops to Become Social Workers: We Need Peer Support + Community Response

  3. Networks, Stefanie Kaufman-Mthimkhulu (

  4. Guide to Alternative Mental Health Crisis Responses, Interrupting Criminalization (

  5. Challenging the Carceral Campus:  Mental Health, Illness & ‘Threat’, Nev Jones 

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