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MINERAL AREA COLLEGE - BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION TEAM (BIT)

Mineral Area College is concerned about the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.  MAC is committed to providing an environment where individuals are free to work, learn and teach, unencumbered and uninhibited by threats of intimidation or harm.  To this end, the college has established the Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT).  BIT is responsible for upholding college policies and procedures regarding student behavior. 

Definition of BIT

The Behavioral Intervention Team is a cross-functional assessment group that will respond to students in apparent/potential distress.

Mission Statement

BIT provides proactive assistance to students who are exhibiting concerning behaviors, both to support students and assist faculty/staff.

Ethics of BIT

The ethics of BIT are to provide confidential, respectful, and proactive support, while offering resources and balancing the educational needs of students with the mission of Mineral Area College.

Goals of BIT

  • Review information from faculty, staff, students and/or community members; conduct investigation to determine appropriate response and promote early intervention.  
  • Provide support and response to students displaying varying levels of disruptive, disturbed or distressed behaviors.
  • Centralize collection and assessment of concerning student behaviors. ‘Connect the dots’ regarding problematic actions involving one student that may be known to various faculty, staff and administrators.
  • Coordinate follow-up with students and ensure that services, support and resources are deployed effectively.
  • Utilize a formalized protocol of instructions for communication, coordination and intervention.
  • Balance FERPA, HIPAA and counselor privilege with college need-to-know and emergency communication needs.
  • Coordinate possible referral actions:  psychological assessment, conduct actions, disability services, hospitalization and/or medical leave/withdrawal, as needed.  

Background

As a result of growing national trends concerning mental health issues on college campuses, MAC created the Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT).  The BIT has been charged with upholding policies and maintaining a healthy and safe environment for the college community.
BIT is not meant to take the place of standard classroom management techniques utilized by faculty.  Implementation of this team does not alter any existing discipline policies.  Rather, BIT centralizes the reporting of concerning student behavior, publicizes current policy and encourages early intervention.
BIT will utilize a database where real-time incident information will be submitted by college employees and students via an online incident report available on the BIT home page which is found via the MAC website.  Incident reports will be reviewed daily (Monday-Friday).  The team will follow up promptly with the individual initiating the report to gather additional information.  In most cases, an interview will be arranged with the student of concern to determine appropriate actions.  Incident reports should be completed when someone observes incidents of concerning, aberrant, dangerous or threatening behavior. 

Behavior Definitions

  • Distressed Behavior:  Students who may be emotionally troubled and/or impacted by situational stressors and traumatic event(s).
  • Disturbed Behavior:  Students who may be behaviorally disruptive, acting in an unusual or bizarre fashion, may be destructive and harmful to self or others and may be abusing substances.
  • Dysregulated Behavior:  Students may be suicidal, para-suicidal (extreme cutting, eating disordered), engaging in risk taking behaviors (e.g. substance abusing), may be hostile, aggressive, relationally abusive and may be deficient in skills that regulate emotion, cognition, self-behavior and relationships. 

2011-2012 MAC BIT Members

Jean Merrill-Doss
(chair)

Dean of Students

573-518-2262

jeanmer@mineralarea.edu

Debi Bayless

Director - College Park

573-518-1330

dbayless@mineralarea.edu

Teri Douglas

Director of Allied Health Dept.

573-518-2103

tdouglas@mineralarea.edu

Mark Easter

Counselor/Advisor

573-518-2211

mceaster@mineralarea.edu

Nancy Petersen

Professor - Science Dept.

573-518-2227

npeterse@mineralarea.edu

Mark Potratz

Director, Dept. Of Public Safety

573-518-2308

mpotratz@mineralarea.edu

Ad hoc members may be included when appropriate. 

Bit Protocol

BIT has developed a protocol to ensure that concerning student behavior, mental health issues or incidents are addressed consistently.* 
[*Post assessment, any potential disciplinary sanction will be addressed.]

Reporting

All employees should consider it their responsibility to report concerning behaviors for the safety and well-being of the student and campus community. **

  • All reports should be made to BIT and if appropriate, the direct supervisor.
  • Incident reports should be reported to BIT via the online form (preferred method of reporting) or 573-518-2262.  Include as much detail as possible.

Faculty/staff/students can reach BIT staff at 573-518-2262 during regular business hours. After hours, refer to the BIT link at http://my.mineralarea.edu/ICS/BIT/. Emergencies should ALWAYS be reported to 573-631-2831 (public safety) or 911.

  • When determining what is reportable, err on the side of over-reporting.  Please refer to Identifying At-Risk Students for more information.  While an isolated event may appear minor, other similar incidents occurring in close proximity may indicate a pattern of concerning behavior.

[** Reports from staff covered by confidentiality may be shared anonymously or confidentially, unless the report indicates a threat for which confidentiality may be breached (imminent threat to self or other identified individuals). Anonymously refers to omitting from the report the name of the person who holds the privilege (or the names of any other person about whom the reporter gains information via a confidential relationship). Confidentially refers to the option for the reporting employee/student to withhold their identity from the report.]

BIT Actions

BIT will determine which member(s) will assess the "Student Concern/Incident Report" and determine actions consistent with college policy.

Assessment may include:

  • Confirming to reporting parties that the report was received.
  • Clarifying details.
  • Interviewing the involved individual(s).

Initial actions may include:

  • Referring student to support services.
  • Facilitating meeting between concerned parties.
  • Contacting parents, guardians, roommates, friends, faculty, coaches, etc.

Part of this protocol is an assessment of whether such notifications are legally permitted, and whether such notifications could be helpful or harmful to the intervention and to risk management priorities.

  • Mandating psychological assessment. ***
  • Voluntary/involuntary removal from campus. ***
  • Student(s) demonstrating an imminent threat to harm should be referred immediately to the Department of Public Safety.
    ***These policies are pending Board approval.

Follow-up actions may include:

  • Establishing return criteria.
  • Coordinating supportive services for a returning student.
  • Establishing behavioral contract.
  • Confirming continuity of care.

Accepting or appealing actions determined by BIT:

  • A student must appeal actions, via written response, addressed to the BIT Chair.
  • Failing to comply with the actions may result in referral to the Dean of Students for disciplinary actions. 

BIT Resources

Identifying At-Risk Students

At one time or another, everyone feels depressed or upset.  However, there are three levels of student distress which, when present over a period of time, suggest that the problems are more than the ‘normal’ reactions to life stressors.

Level 1 - Distress

Although not disruptive to others in classroom or elsewhere, these behaviors in students may indicate that something is wrong and that help may be needed:

  • Serious grade problems.
  • Unaccountable change from good to poor performance.
  • Change from frequent attendance to excessive absences.
  • Change in pattern of interaction.
  • Marked change in mood, motor activity or speech.
  • Marked change in physical appearance.
Level 2 - Disturbance

These behaviors in students may indicate significant emotional distress or a reluctance or inability to acknowledge a need for personal help:

  • Repeated request for special consideration.
  • New or regularly occurring behavior which pushes the limits and may interfere with class management or be disruptive to others.
  • Unusual or exaggerated emotional response.
Level 3 - Dysregulation

In many cases, these behaviors may show that the student is in crisis and needs emergency care:

  • Highly disruptive behavior (hostility, aggression, etc.).
  • Inability to communicate clearly (garbled, slurred speech, disjointed thoughts).
  • Loss of contact with reality (seeing/hearing things that are not there, beliefs or actions at odds with reality).
  • Overt suicidal thoughts (suicide is a current option).
  • Homicidal threats.
  • Individuals deficient in skills that regulate emotion, cognition, self, behavior and relationships.

What You Can (and Can’t) Do

Responses to Level 1/Level 2 Behaviors
  • Calmly talk to the student in private when you both have time.
  • Express your concern in non-judgmental terms.
  • Listen to the student and repeat the gist of what the student is saying.
  • Clarify the costs and benefits of each option for handling the problem from the student’s point of view.
  • Respect the student’s value system.
  • Ask if the student is considering suicide.
  • Make appropriate referrals if necessary.
  • Make sure the student understands what action is necessary.
Responses to Level 3 Behavior
  • Stay calm.
  • Call emergency referrals. 

Talking to Students About Your Concerns

Be cognizant about the limits of your ability to help.  You can help students get the support they need by informing them of our counseling services.  Explain that students visit the counselor for a variety of reasons.  If a student is receptive to seeing a counselor, provide him or her with information regarding the services available on campus in Student Services. Some statements that might help you start a dialog are:

  • “Sounds like you are really struggling with _________.  Many people find it helpful to talk with someone in confidence that is outside of the situation.”
  • “I want to help you get the help you need and deserve.”
  • “Meeting with the MAC counselor is confidential, free and will not go on your academic record.”
  • “These are services your tuition pays for; take advantage of them.”

Do’s and Don’ts for Responding to Suicide Gestures

  • DO show that you take the student’s feelings seriously.
  • DO let the student know that you want to help.
  • DO listen attentively and empathize.
  • DO reassure that, with help and motivation, the student can develop a more positive outlook.
  • DO stay close until help is available or risk has passed.
  • DON’T try to shock or challenge the student.
  • DON’T assume the student is only seeking attention.
  • DON’T become argumentative.
  • DON’T react with shock or disdain at the student’s thoughts and feelings.
  • DON’T discount the student’s distress. 

Faculty-specific Tips

In the Classroom
  • Create opportunities for connections in your classroom and work to engage the withdrawn or socially isolated student.
  • Phrase feedback positively whenever possible.
  • During critiques, emphasize the purpose, process and benefit of them.  Seek to normalize the experience by using examples, such as an invited upperclassman’s work.
  • Understand that some students lack basic life skills and are playing catch-up in many areas.
  • Identify the MAC counselor, Mark Easter in Student Services (573-518-2211), as a resource regarding self-care, stress management, test anxiety, depression or other pertinent topics.
Outside the Classroom
  • Refer students to programs that will help them improve study skills and time management (EXCEL; the Learning Center; GUI1000 Principles Of College Success).
  • Identify career counseling as a tool for personal growth.  Contact Beth Lambert, career services coordinator, at 573-518-2193/Room 103 for more information.
  • Encourage student involvement in events, campus clubs or community activities. Contact Beth Lambert, student activities coordinator, for ideas, handouts or resources at 573-518-2193/Room 103.
  • Inform students with disabilities about the self-identification process to utilize accommodations.  Contact Lisa Leftridge, ACCESS services director at 573-518-2152/Room 103 for more information.
  • Engage with students at activities and on campus – they will feel valued!
  • Consult with the BIT as needed for feedback.  We are here to support all students and employees. 

BIT FAQs:

Who can make a BIT referral?
MAC employees and students who feel a student’s behavior is concerning can make a BIT (Behavioral Intervention Team) referral via the school’s MyMAC system.

What do I do if I know a student who may need to be referred to the BIT process?

  • If you feel there is an immediate threat, call MAC’s security at 573-631-2831.
  • To make a referral, use the Incident Report link on the BIT home page on MyMAC http://my.mineralarea.edu/ICS/BIT/. You may also leave a message at 573-518-2262. You will be asked for basic information about the student (including their MAC student number), how to contact you (in case the BIT Committee has follow-up questions) and for a description of the incident or behaviors that prompted the referral.
  • You are BIT’s best resource because you may be familiar to the student. If you are comfortable doing so, tell the student that you are concerned and ask if he/she is okay. In many cases, students will indicate that he/she could use some help and you can refer them to the MAC counselor at 573-518-2211.

What happens after I make the referral?
BIT team members evaluate the information and make a decision about whether the student should be assessed/interviewed. Reporting, however, is the most critical step.

What happens to the student in the BIT process?
BIT provides students with confidential, respectful, proactive support, while offering resources and balancing the educational needs of students with the mission of Mineral Area College.

How do I know if a concerning behavior is a BIT issue, or is more appropriately handled by other campus resources?
You do not have to make this determination. The most critical step is that you report the concerning behavior at 573-518-2262 or file a BIT Incident Report online at http://my.mineralarea.edu/ICS/BIT/. If another campus resource is more appropriate, BIT will refer the student and handle the transfer of information.
NOTE:  Never promise confidentiality to student(s) during initial referral.