Make Your Threat Assessment Team Effective: Part 2

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This is the second of two articles offering practical advice on making behavioral intervention teams effective. You can read the first article here.

August 18, 2011. In today's difficult economic climate, most institutions of higher education are facing significant reductions in counseling and mental health budgets at a time when the mental health needs of students, faculty, and staff are on the rise. In a recent survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, 77 percent of counseling center directors indicated that the number of students on campus with severe mental health issues had increased in the past year. And while most available studies focus on student mental health, last year's shooting at the University of Alabama in Huntsville offers a tragic reminder that faculty and staff may also face mental health issues.

We asked Gene Deisinger, deputy chief of police and director of threat management services at Virginia Tech, for his advice on pitfalls to avoid when establishing early behavioral intervention teams or threat assessment teams. Deisinger is both a police officer and a clinical psychologist, and has been involved with such teams for over 15 years. He notes these five pitfalls that you can avoid with a little careful planning:

  • Focusing solely on increased reporting
  • Focusing only on students
  • Reinventing the wheel
  • Lack of due diligence in vetting possible vendors
  • Failing to follow up, monitor, and assess whether the initial intervention was sufficient

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