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Care Network: Early Intervention and Support for Students of Concern
The Care Network is comprised of every AU community member and empowers anyone at AU to share concerns about student behaviors. We manage the Care Network by responding and reaching out to members of the AU community that may need support.
Every member of the AU Community can access the Care Network by submitting an online form called a Care Report. This Care Report is processed by the Office of the Dean of Students and assigned to a DOS representative who then reaches out to the individual to get them connected with resources and support. If you recognize signs of distress or observe disruptive behavior, submit an online report to the Care Network (also found on the myAU.american.edu portal under the Life@AU tab). The Care Network is accessible to faculty, staff and students.
Recognize, Respond, Refer
Faculty, staff, and peers are often the first to observe signs of distress in students. Changes in behavior, appearance, uncharacteristically disruptive behavior in the classroom, or disturbing written communications can be early warning signs of distress and are opportunities to open conversation with the student. Conversely, overt reference to self-harm, harm of others, or suicide should be reported immediately to AU Police (202-885-2527). You can play an important role by identifying students in distress and helping them receive the assistance they need.
Distressed behaviors may include:
- Significant changes in academic performance, work, or social activities
- Sudden changes in alcohol or other drug usage
- Changes in sleeping, eating, bathing, or other personal care routines
- Increasingly withdrawn, volatile, tearful, or expressing hopelessness
- Excessively disruptive in the administrative, teaching, or learning environment
- Difficulty concentrating or carrying on a conversation
Whether in writing or in person, if a student is expressing concerns for their mental health it is important to listen with empathy and respond with referral options appropriate to the level of distress expressed by the student. If you are unsure about whether or how to intervene with a student who appears to be distressed, ask yourself:
- Is this behavior distressingly out of the ordinary?
- Is this situation outside of my area of expertise?
- Is the behavior getting worse?
- Does the behavior place anyone at risk?
- Do I want to talk with someone about my observations and concerns?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, submit a report to the Care Network or call the Office of the Dean of Students at (202-885-3300) to talk through your concerns.
If you recognize signs of distress or observe disruptive behavior, submit an online report to the Care Network. Our staff will offer support to the student and connect them with the appropriate resources on campus or within the community. Students navigating significant or complex behavioral, emotional, social, academic, or health concerns will be referred to the Care Team in the Office of the Dean of Students. Using an interdisciplinary case management approach, the Care Team develops comprehensive intervention strategies and monitors the continued status of the student.
When a report is assigned to a member of our team, the reporter will receive an acknowledgement receipt of report and may receive further outreach to obtain additional information. You may contact the Office of the Dean of Students at any time if you have questions about how the report is being handled. Please note that privacy concerns may prevent disclosure of specific details regarding the report.
Members of the Care Team, as administrative agents in an educational institution, adhere to the laws and standards governing the disclosure of information to third parties both within and external to the University. Such information is only disclosed on a need-to-know basis and only according to the relevant statutes that govern such disclosure. Anonymity of reporter cannot be guaranteed as Care Reports are considered part of a student's educational record.
The Student Health Center and Center for Well-Being Programs and Psychological Services staff are governed by additional laws and ethical codes regarding the disclosure of medical and psychological records to third parties of clients or patients under their care.