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The Value of Campus Behavioral Intervention Teams

September 4, 2016

College campus Behavioral Intervention Teams (BIT) promote student, faculty and staff success and campus safety by facilitating the identification and support of individuals who demonstrate behaviors that may be early warning signs of possible troubled, disruptive or violent behavior. Campus BIT teams typically have membership representing campus health, mental health, discipline, security, student services and other relevant offices that may be likely to have information about students in need of support. These teams gather information and develop plans for responding and supporting students in distress.

The academic success, health and safety of individuals within the community, and the safety of the community overall drive the activities and focus of most BIT teams. The primary catalyst for creating a BIT team is to provide a mechanism for improved coordination and communication across the college system when a distressed person or disturbing behavior has the potential to threaten the well-being and safety of a college community. Many campus teams adopt a broader charge and see their role as marshalling school resources to promote student success, health, and development by intervening proactively and in various ways that help struggling students continue their education.

A BIT team works to cultivate relationships with administrators, faculty, staff and representatives of myriad campus offices, sets a tone of caring, and acts in an advisory and coordinating role when a response to a student situation of concern is indicated. The dual purpose of housing these functions under one central campus team’s purview is to prevent any particular instance of disturbed or disturbing behavior from falling through the organizational cracks and to connect disparate (and therefore seemingly innocuous or less troubling) pieces of information that might indicate a more serious or acute problem.

JED encourages BIT teams to encompass several functions including receiving and evaluating information from sources on campus and determining a threshold for action once a concern has been identified. A well organized BIT team will implement proactive interventions targeted at thwarting a crisis situation before it comes to fruition; if an act of violence has occurred, BIT teams will coordinate an appropriate response to de-escalate a crisis and reduce or remove an ongoing threat. Once the safety and well-being of the campus or individual has been assured, BIT teams gauge the effectiveness of the intervention and assess the need for follow-up or ongoing monitoring. In the aftermath of a response, BIT teams play a central role in assessing whether a college’s policies and procedures need to be modified to meet the needs of future cases.

Additional resource: campus-teams-balancing-safety-support-campus-jed-guide

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The World Health Organization defines “mental health” “as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” In using this definition, S2i recognizes that some mental health challenges reflect brain diseases that, like physical diseases, require appropriate stigma-free and patient-centered care and include both mental health and substance use disorders. Other mental health challenges stem from social conditions and marginalization and require different forms of interventions.