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George Mason Universityvertical bar Counseling and Psychological Services

Students of Concern

Counseling and Psychological Services at Mason partners with the Office of Student Support and Case Management (OSSCM) to help address student, faculty, staff, and/or parent concerns about student behaviors that may raise safety and well-being issues.

If you feel there is immediate danger, call the university police promptly at either 911 (when              on campus) or (703) 993-2810.

If you do not feel that your concerns rise to the level of an emergency, please contact OSSCM at 703-993-5376 or visit their website to make a referral directly. If the situation is not an emergency but likely needs a response today, we recommend you contact OSSCM by phone.  Any referral to OSSCM will insure that that office is aware of the individual you are concerned about and will provide them with the information to help. OSSCM may have had previous contact with the student for whom you are concerned and will be able to use your information to take better informed action.

CAPS  is prepared to consult whenever there is a difficult situation; please take advantage of this resource by calling 703-993-2380 during the day from 8:30 am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. Counselors are available to help you address many of the questions or concerns you have about a student’s well-being, including providing information on where needed assistance can be obtained and guidance about how to approach the student to help them get the support they need. We will ask questions to aid in understanding what is happening. We will then strategize how best to help. We will likely ask that you also call OSSCM.

Counselors are not able to initiate contact with students. Students need to contact CAPS to make an appointment for consultation/counseling services. If you are concerned that a student will be unable to do this, you may walk them into our office to aid them in the first step of making an appointment or call when they are with you so that they can make an appointment at that time.  If you have serious concerns about a student and do not feel they can follow through to help themselves, please contact OSSCM, as indicated above.

FERPA and Confidentiality

The Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act’s (FERPA’s) disclosure restrictions do not apply to personal knowledge derived from direct, personal experience. For example, a faculty or staff member who personally observes a student engaging in erratic and/or threatening behavior is not prohibited by FERPA from disclosing that observation to other officials or to the student’s family.

However, confidentiality in the counseling relationship is protected in the state of Virginia. This prevents counseling staff from discussing your student’s counseling without written permission from your student. Counselors and support staff cannot confirm in any way if your student has been seen at CAPS. However, if you want CAPS to be aware of something concerning your student, or have questions about our services and how to access them please feel free to contact us. 

Follow Up

Following up personally with those for whom you feel concern is the single most effective way to express your on-going willingness to help students. Simply approach the individual and ask how they are doing, whom they met with, and if they received help. These are some of the very best ways to let students know you support them.

You may feel reluctant to follow up as you may be concerned about how the student feels. If you approach them with concern and care, you are very likely to find they will respond positively.

Following up will help both you and the student feel more comfortable around each other and will keep the dialog open between you.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact CAPS or OSSCM.

CAPS      703-993-2380  

OSSCM   703-993-5376

OTHER RESOURCES: Recognizing and Responding to Students in Distress: A Faculty Handbook is a free E-Book resource available to all Virginia colleges and universities. We invite you to consider how you might use this in your work with students. 

Last updated: 012/07/12