Friday, May 25, 2007

Good article about Disability Service and Mental Health professionals

In the days following the shootings at Virginia Tech, I found myself trying to compose some thoughts on the matter to post here. However, each time, I felt intrusive on the survivors of that tragedy and my words were not near as clear as they were in my mind. As a result, I deleted each attempt, feeling inadequate to express the words that needed to be said.

The compulsion to write about that subject was prompted by the shooter in that event reminding me of the type of students Disability Support Service professionals are periodically alerted to, either as one of the students on their caseload, or one which a faculty member inquires about. I've met a couple of these types and recall the gut response from many of the involved staff and faculty.

Many who have served in the DSS role for any reasonable amount of time have known at least one of these incidents. It prompts a spectrum of emotions and reactions ranging from sincere concern to a hyperactive fear. Striking the proper response is the key.

There is a good piece on this very subject written by a clinical psychologist in the Times Community Newspapers, titled
Are you Seung-Hui Cho's keeper?

Being that the article is written by a mental health professional, it is presented with a good understanding of the ADA and HIPPA and the restraints these laws have on universities.

Without spoiling the body of this well written article, I’d like to share the two closing paragraphs.

“Am I my brother's or sister's keeper? Is it my business if I notice that a fellow human being is having difficulty coping with life? Intruding in one's personal affairs is not always the easiest or wisest thing to do.”

“Nothing in life is guaranteed. We might ask ourselves, however, if there was the slightest possibility that having done so might not only have saved Cho's life, but the life of over 30 others as well.”

The article magnifies the positive alliances that can be achieved when the DSS office maintains open lines of communication with trained mental health professionals. I urge you to click the above link and read the entire piece. It says a lot, the meat of which I had been attempting to grasp and put into words.

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