Crow, administration explain role of ASU mental health services on campus

The role of mental health at ASU has recently been highlighted by moves such as the decision to relocate psychiatric care to third-party facilities off campus and the proliferation of school shootings nationwide.

However, students and community members should not think that mental health care has been reduced at ASU, ASU President Michael Crow said in a October meeting with The State Press.

"We didn't cut any services," Crow said. "We've outsourced some services and insourced others. Any student that needs psychiatric attention will get psychiatric attention."

Crow said the quality or depth of psychiatric service has not decreased. He drew a comparison to the contracting of medical doctors to support the athletic teams.

"Psychiatric services now are M.D.s, who are also able to write prescriptions and deal, not just with psychological or behavioral issues but with biochemical issues in the way the brain is working," Crow said.

He said contracting psychiatric services to a third party is not to make life more difficult for students, but because he believes it will provide a better service to those who need it.

Aaron Krasnow, associate vice president of ASU Counseling and Health Services, said he affirms Crow's thoughts on the outsourcing of psychiatric services. 

"There has been no change to the services provided by ASU Health Services or ASU Counseling services," Krasnow wrote in an email. "In cases when a student needs the specialized assistance of a psychiatrist, ASU Health and Counseling Services guide the student to a provider from our extensive network of local psychiatrists."

He wrote that most psychiatric services were already found off campus utilizing a network of third-party doctors. 

"The exception to this was a small, unique offering that has been available only at the College of Nursing at the Downtown Campus," he wrote. "It is this program, which was used by less than 0.5 percent of students, that is being discontinued. Those patients have now, like the rest of ASU students, received guidance and referrals to other providers to meet their care needs — a more efficient system."

Crow also touched on campus violence, ruling out any chances of allowing students to carry guns, but he did volunteer a key connection to mental wellness.

"The tragedy that occurred in Oregon, several years ago in 2007 on the Virginia Tech campus and other places since then seem to largely be the result of ... mentally unstable young men who have some kind of problem or set of problems," he said. "A better outcome for us would be to focus our attention on how to identify individuals who need help and get them that help as soon as possible, through counseling services, or intervention or what have you."

Crow also outlined the University's violence policy. He said any expression of violent action is not only potential grounds for arrest, but also for an immediate exit from the campus for psychiatric evaluation.

ASU Police Department Media Relations Officer Nicole Franks added detail to Crow's comments on law enforcement's role in mental health.

"Law enforcement agencies across the country and Arizona encounter situations involving people with mental health challenges," Franks wrote in an email. "The key is, provided they are not violent, channeling them to the right resources for help."

She wrote that ASU PD has five officers specifically trained to deal with individuals with mental illnesses and deescalate those situations, and she explained that ASU PD is continuing training on how to handle situations with mentally ill people and that the department works closely with ASU Counseling Services.

One method of addressing potentially dangerous mentally unstable students is what Crow called the 360 view. 

"We put in place a thing called the 360," Crow said. "So there's a record now we have of every student in the university that combines everything we know about you — your library fines, your whatever. Before it's like, 'We can find all this out, but it takes like three days to figure out whether this person has had visits to counseling services, has this person had disciplinary issues in the residence halls, has this person been kicked out of the English department or did this person write nasty letters to a professor, or any other kind of stuff.'"

He said most students only have a file that displays their grades and perhaps a parking violation, and that the information is only open to certain staff. He said the 360 was in direct response to the Virginia Tech shooting.

The 360 view is not a secret, either. ASU has addressed it before. 

"The Student 360 view and retention dashboard were created to consolidate student information from different databases — financial aid and police records, residence hall data, academic transcripts, advising notes and student judicial hearings — to live on one central database," according to a statement released by ASU.

The statement is essentially congruent to Crow's description of the 360 view. It also offers a connection to violence that likely serves as a link between many of the discussions about mental health on campus.

It concludes, "This enables ASU to formulate an all-encompassing response to any warning signs and crises, and offer better advising and other forms of student support."

Editor's Note: If you're having trouble with any stress or depression, please contact ASU Counseling Services. You can call or walk into locations on any of the four campuses during the day or call ASU's EMPACT hotline after hours or on weekends at 480-921-1006.

Related Links:

SP Weekly: Mental health

New mental health club launches at Downtown campus

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