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Faculty and Staff Resources for Helping in an Emotional Crisis

Practicing compassionate mental health first aid in an emergency can save a life.

Most of us likely have a first aid kit somewhere in our home. In it, you might find bandages, gauze, hydrogen peroxide, and other things you might need in an emergency medical situation. But what if the health emergency is mental or emotional instead of physical? Mental health first aid is emergency care for someone's emotional and mental well-being and can save lives.

What is an Emotional Crisis?

An emotional crisis is when a person's healthy coping mechanisms are no longer working. It is a highly unpleasant emotional state that can be subjective and personal. Its severity can range from mild to life-threatening. A crisis should always be taken seriously and responded to as quickly as possible.

Signs of an Emotional Crisis

When a person is in a state of emotional crisis, you might see or hear the following:

  • Extreme agitation, anxiety/panic
  • References to or threats of suicide, or other types of self-harm
  • Feeling or expressing hopeless/helplessness
  • Visible marks or injury on body from self-harm or assault
  • Disorientation; confusion; loss of contact with conventional reality
  • Self report of increase in substance use
  • Problems in academic performance
  • Change in typical habits or behavior
  • Problems and/or loss in personal relationships

In an Emergency

On-Campus Emergencies

If you have determined the person in crisis is going to do harm to themselves or another, this is an emergency. For any emergency on campus, please contact the Office of Safety and Security at (585) 385-8111. During the academic year, there is an on-call counselor that may be contacted to assist in assessing the urgency of the situation. This individual is accessed through the Office of Safety and Security or a residential director.

Off-Campus Emergencies

For off campus emergencies, you should call 911.

Within the greater Rochester area, Lifeline, or 211, is a resource. Through 211, you can also make a referral to the Rochester Mobile Crisis team. For details about what this team can provide, visit the Rochester Mobile Crisis Team website.

What if I am unsure if it is an emergency?

It is ok to believe a situation is urgent and seek help even if someone else deems it was not an emergency.

If you are unsure and are looking for guidance during our regular business hours of Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., please consult with the Health and Wellness Center at (585) 385-8280 and ask to speak to the director/crisis counselor on call.

The Office of Safety and Security is a resource for after hours.

Ways to Help a Student in Crisis

Talk to the student in private and express concern for the their wellbeing.

  • Be specific regarding the behavior that concerns you.
  • Listen without judgment to their concerns.
  • Keep in mind students may have an established connection to support them. You could ask:
    • Do you have a connection to a counselor or another support?
    • What do you think might be helpful for you right now?
    • Would you like my help to get connected to a counselor?
  • If the student agrees to a counselor at the Health and Wellness, offer to call with them or help them make an appointment through their Patient Portal. Some students prefer to make their own contact, but a distressed student may appreciate your assistance. The Health and Wellness Center phone number is (585) 385-8280.
  • If a student does not accept a referral, try not to take it personally. Accepting help tends to be a process. One strategy is ask how you might support them going forward and check back in at another time.

Additional Support and Services