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George Mason Universityvertical bar Counseling and Psychological Services

Faculty Training

Helping the At Risk Student

As most faculty have observed first hand, many students face increasing economic, academic and social pressures. For some, these pressures can lead to emotional distress, depression, anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide. These conditions may also compromise students’ academic achievements and affect their ability to stay in school. Mason faculty and staff are on the front line and often encounter students who may be experiencing distress and suicidal thoughts. To support faculty and staff in responding to these situations and to increase the opportunities for students to access assistance, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers two training programs:

MASON CARES is a two hour gatekeeping program designed to train faculty and staff in how to respond to students who may be experiencing distress and suicidal thoughts and guide them in seeking appropriate assistance from CAPS. This training helps participants learn:

Why people attempt suicide
Warning signs of suicide
Myths about suicide How to make a referral
How to respond to a person in
How to talk to a person about

Register for an upcoming session.


AT RISK is an interactive, online course where you can learn best practices for discussing your concerns with students and, if necessary, referring them to Mason support services.

In this course, you will engage in simulated conversations with student avatars that are fully animated and emotionally responsive, making this interactive environment a highly realistic role-play experience. Participation only takes 45 minutes and can be completed over multiple sittings (the course saves your progress along the way).
The Virginia Department of Health and the Campus Suicide Prevention Center of Virginia have purchased licenses for a number of faculty members in Virginia, including Mason, to complete the At Risk training. Faculty members at over 75 universities across the country have found the training to be helpful and informative. CAPS is facilitating the training at Mason with support from the Provost, Vice-President for University Life, and the Center for Teaching Excellence. To access the training go to and enter key word gmu4455


RECOGNIZING AND RESPONDING TO STUDENTS IN DISTRESS: A FACULTY HANDBOOK.  This resource is a free E-Book available to all Virginia colleges and universities. We invite you to consider how you might use this in your work with students.   


For more information from CAPS about assisting students of concern, call CAPS or go to Students of Concern