The University of Idaho is fundamentally concerned for the welfare of its students and provides appropriate professional mental health services to support them in their educational endeavors. While high quality services are available, the University does not have the resources to guarantee the safety of students with the most extreme mental health crises. In some situations, students cannot continue with their educational activities until a mental health crisis is resolved. It is occasionally necessary to collaborate with all available appropriate resources including family members for the welfare of that student.
This statement describes University of Idaho protocol in contacting family members in the event of a mental health crisis.
The University of Idaho will treat students who are experiencing a mental health crisis according to the highest professional mental health practices and will also respect student privacy rights as defined by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and University policy. Under extreme circumstances, it may be necessary to contact a student’s parents or other family member to provide support to assist the student. Such contact is permitted by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA 99.36), University policy (3610 Sec C-3-a) “if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals”. This contact will also be made according to professional practices and legal standards.
It may be difficult to balance a student’s right to privacy with the value of family support and involvement in crisis situations. Ultimately, professional judgments must be made as to when it is appropriate for the University to contact family members on behalf of a student. The University will give family notification responsibility to a team of staff who evaluate the situation based on information that is available through incident reports, police reports, mental health evaluations and other information as may be available concerning the student. The team will be used when possible and will include but will but not be limited to the following persons or their designee.
- Director of Counseling Center
- Dean of Students
- Legal Counsel
Consistent with federal and state laws and professional ethical requirements of confidentiality, family notification may occur under the following circumstances.
- Student has engaged in self-inflicted life-threatening behavior.
- Student is a danger to themselves or others and is unresponsive to professional medical or mental health advice.
- Student has injured themselves and requires medical attention.
While the University will generally attempt to contact family members in these circumstances, family members will not be contacted in all situations. The University may not contact family members in the event of a mental heath crisis if University officials determine that family support may not materially assist the student. For example, family members of an international student may not be able to assist while other support systems may be more useful. Also, a student’s family may not be contacted if there is information indicating that the family will not be supportive of the student.