The Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) was created to address behavioral concerns that may negatively impact the campus learning environment or potentially harm the health, welfare and safety of members of the University community or the individual(s) exhibiting such behaviors.
The BIT is a group of University personnel committed to a proactive, collaborative and planned approach to the management of threatening, disruptive, disturbing or otherwise problematic behaviors at YSU.
- What is the difference between a disruptive and a distressed person?
1. What is the difference between a disruptive and a distressed person?
A Disruptive person is one whose behavior signifies an obvious crisis and necessitates more immediate intervention. For example, behavior that interferes and is reckless, disorderly, and/or threatening would be considered disruptive.
A Distressed person may not be disruptive to others but may exhibit behaviors which indicate something is wrong. They may be reluctant or unable to acknowledge a need for personal help. A distressed person may show confusion, sadness, high levels of anxiety, irritability, lack of motivation, bizarre behavior or thoughts of suicide.
2. How do I deal with a disruptive person?
Behavior that interferes with students, faculty, or staff and their access to an appropriate educational or work environment is considered disruptive.
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOR?
- Yelling or screaming
- Persistent and unreasonable demands for time and attention
- Words or actions that intimidate or harass another
- Words or actions that cause another to fear for his/her personal safety
- Threats of physical assault
HOW SHOULD I DEAL WITH A DISRUPTIVE PERSON?
Disruptive behavior should not be ignored. Remain calm. Remind yourself that it is not about you; it is about the situation. Tell the individual that such behavior is inappropriate and there are consequences for failing to improve the disruptive behavior. Many disruptive situations involve anger. Recognize that the period of peak anger usually lasts 20-30 seconds. Although this may seem like an eternity in the throes of the situation, often it may be best to wait out this period before continuing to address the behavior.
Disruptive behavior should be documented. Write a factual, detailed account of what occurred. Use concrete terms. Share the documentation appropriately.
DOs and DON'Ts
- DO listen through the anger. Use active listening.
- DO acknowledge the feelings of the individual.
- DO allow the person to vent and tell you what is upsetting to him/her. Use silence to allow the person to talk it out.
- DO set limits. Explain clearly and directly what behaviors are acceptable. "I will be willing to speak with you as soon as you lower your voice."
- DO be firm, steady, consistent, and honest.
- DO focus on what you can do to help resolve the situation.
- DO make appropriate referrals. Give a name of an individual when possible, and call ahead to brief the professional on the situation.
- DO report the behavior to University Police and/or Student Conduct or Human Resources and the BIT.
- DON'T interrupt, particularly during the first 20-30 seconds of peak anger.
- DON'T minimize the situation.
- DON'T get into an argument or shouting match.
- DON'T blame, ridicule, or use sarcasm.
- DON'T touch.
- DON'T ignore warning signs that the person is about to explode.
- DON'T ignore your own limitations.
Remember that it is not your responsibility to provide professional counsel.
Your priority is to connect the person of concern with the resource best suited to address the concern.
If a person expresses a direct threat to themselves or others, or acts in a bizarre, highly irrational or disruptive way, contact YSU PD 330-941-3527 or 911 (From a campus phone) immediately.
Dealing with disruptive students in the classroom or office area: Faculty and staff have the right to prevent disruptive students from interfering with their right to teach and the right of other students to learn. To this end, faculty and staff may ask a student to refrain from certain behaviours in the classroom or in the office, require a student to meet with them, or, when necessary, ask a disruptive student to leave the classroom or office area. In most situations, behavior that requires a student to be removed from a class or office should be reported to the appropriate departmental person and the BIT.
Dealing with students who refuse to leave the classroom or office area when asked: If a student is asked to leave a class or office area because of his or her disruptive behaviour and the student refuses, the faculty or staff member must determine whether it is possible to continue to conduct class or office function. If the student appears violent or dangerous, the faculty or staff member should call YSU PD (330-941-3527 or 911 from a campus phone) or ask someone else to place the call. In any case, if class or office staff must be dismissed because of the behaviour of a student, then the BIT should be informed.
Avoiding confrontation in the classroom or office area: While in the classroom or office area, faculty and staff members are encouraged to avoid confronting angry students in a manner which may escalate the potential for violent behaviour. Meeting with an angry student after class is usually preferable to confronting the student in front of a classroom of students. Students with severe anger management problems should be reported to the BIT to determine if the behaviour represents a pattern for the student or an isolated incident.
If you feel threatened or intimidated:
Call YSU PD at 330-941-3527 or 911 (from a campus phone) and convey to the dispatcher that you need help immediately. If you are in the classroom, send a specific student to go for help.
Wait for assistance.
Keep a safe distance and don't move toward the person.
Do not attempt an intervention. Intervening at this point may trigger physical acting out behavior and jeopardize your safety and the safety of others around you.
After the situation has been resolved, notify the BIT so that follow up can be initiated.
3. How do I deal with a distressed person?
WHAT IS MY ROLE?
You may be in a good position to spot someone who may be emotionally distressed. While some of this is expected, especially during stressful times of the year, you may notice someone acting in a way that is inconsistent with your normal experience of that person. You may be able to be a resource in times of trouble, and your expression of interest and concern may be critical in helping the individual re-establish emotional equilibrium. You also may be able to alert the university so that an appropriate intervention can be made.
POSSIBLE SIGNS OF DISTRESS
- Marked change in performance or behavior
- Excessive absence or tardiness
- Trouble eating and/or sleeping
- Disruptive behavior
- Undue aggressiveness
- Exaggerated emotional response that is obviously inappropriate to the situation
- Depressed or lethargic mood
- Hyperactivity or very rapid speech
- Marked change in personal hygiene
- Excessive confusion
- Dramatic weight loss or gain
- Dependency (individual hangs around or makes excessive appointments to see you)
- Behavior indicating loss of contact with reality
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
- References to suicide
- References to homicide or assault
- Isolation from friends, family, or classmates
- Giving away prized possessions
- Preparing for death by making a will and final arrangements
Contact Student Counseling Services for referrals, or consultation. (330) 941-3737 (phone is answered 8-5 Monday-Friday)
The Student Counseling Services staff may suggest you call YSU PD for immediate assistance or request you walk the student to Student Counseling Services to make an appointment and/or been seen on an emergency basis.
DOs and DON'Ts
- DO speak with the individual privately.
- DO let him/her know you are concerned about his/her welfare.
- DO express your concern in behavioral, non-judgmental terms.
- DO tell him/her you are willing to help.
- DO listen carefully to what he/she is troubled about.
- DO help him/her explore options.
- DO suggest resources.
- DO make referrals to the appropriate campus department.
- DO point out that help is available and that seeking such help is a sign of strength and courage, rather than of weakness or failure.
- DO maintain clear and consistent boundaries and expectations.
- DO recognize your limits.
- DO enlist the help of others as appropriate.
- DO document the interaction or incident.
- DON'T promise confidentiality.
- DON'T judge or criticize.
- DON'T ignore the unusual behavior.
- DON'T make the problem your own.
- DON'T involve yourself beyond the limits of your time or skill.
4. I am concerned about a person. What can I do to help?
If you identify distressed or disruptive behavior in a person on campus which warrants an immediate response, call YSU Police.
From a campus phone: 911
From a cell phone: 330-941-3527
If the disruptive behavior is off campus, call 911 (your call will be answered by the county or city 911, depending on location).
If you identify distressed or disruptive behavior in a person, which does not necessitate an immediate response, see How do I deal with a distressed person and How do I deal with a disruptive person. You may refer the person of concern to the BIT for additional help and support.
While it's important to remember that the majority of disruptions will not result in violence, we want to encourage everyone to monitor and respect their own instincts in every situation. If you feel your own or others' safety may be in jeopardy:
Dial 911 from a Campus Phone
Call YSU Police: (330) 941-3527 from a Cell Phone
5. I have concerns about a student's mental health needs. What do I do?
Help a student make an appointment with Student Counseling Services.
- Offer the use of your phone for the student to call and make an appointment.
- Consider making the call for the student if the student wishes for you to do so while in your presence.
- If you feel the situation is an emergency, call Student Counseling Services (330-941-3737), identify yourself, and inform the person who answers of the student’s need to be seen immediately.
- If necessary, walk the student over to the center. Student Counseling Services makes it a priority to see any student in crisis.
Once a student becomes a client of Student Counseling Services, the terms of confidentiality apply fully. Unless the student signs Consent for Release of Information, Student Counseling Services may not release information about the student. That means you, as the referral source, will not be able to obtain any further information about the student.
Should a faculty member walk with the student to Student Counseling Services?
Sometimes offering to accompany a student over to the center will greatly reduce the student’s anxiety about going to see a counselor. If you do agree to accompany the student, ask the student if he or she would like you to remain in the waiting room until he or she is seen by a counselor. If the student does not want you to walk over with him or her, or if you decide this is not an option for you, it is often helpful to provide the student with a brief description of the intake procedure or to offer to call ahead and let the center know the student is coming.
How to assist the student who is reluctant to seek counseling
- Acknowledge and discuss the student’s fears and concerns about seeking help.
- Remind the student that counseling sessions are confidential.
- Remind the student that counseling at Student Counseling Services is free.
- Point out that a situation does not have to reach a crisis state for him or her to benefit from professional help; a medical analogy may be useful.
- Emphasize that, although some people believe that seeking counseling is an admission of weakness and failure, in fact, it often takes considerable courage to face oneself and acknowledge one’s limitations.
- Offer to accompany the student to Student Counseling Services.
- Emphasize counseling as an empowering tool of change for those who choose to use it.
What to do if the student resists or refuses to seek counseling
Unless the student is at risk for harm to himself/herself or others, counseling remains a voluntary option for students. Despite every effort on your part to facilitate a referral, the student may choose not to follow through on your suggestion that he or she seek counseling. If you find yourself in this situation, continue to express your belief that counseling could be beneficial, and keep your offer of help available to the student. Document the process for your personal files should you need to verify in the future your assistance to this student. If a student is at risk for harm to himself/herself or others, please report this information to YSU PD (330-941-3527) as soon as possible. If the student is with you, tell the student that you will arrange for him or her to be seen as soon as possible by a counselor. If the student leaves with the intent to disregard your referral, you should call YSU PD immediately.
Consultation is always an option
If you have a concern about a student, feel free to call Student Counseling Services and ask to consult with one of the staff members. Staff clinicians will be glad to discuss specific options for you and the student. This does not obligate you or the student and often helps to answer your questions and concerns.
After a referral
Once a student has been referred to Student Counseling Services, he or she is in a confidential relationship. Often, students will come back to you and let you know about their experience. If appropriate, a representative of the center may contact you to follow up or gain additional information.
Student Counseling Services are provided Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To make an appointment, call 330-941-3737.
If you need to reach a counselor after hours, call the Mahoning County Help Hotline at 330-747-2696.
6. When should I refer someone to the Behavioral Intervention Team?
It's better to have more information than not enough. As the picture below indicates, even though the majority of behaviors may be innocuous, putting together the whole picture might reveal something more.
Remember that the Behavioral Intervention Team is here to consult with you to help you to make the decision of what's problematic, and what's not. Even if a formal referral isn't necessary, we can help you to identify resources and strategies which can help you to manage or cope with the situation positively.
Lastly, it cannot be stressed enough to follow your instincts. If something inside of you is saying that there's a potential risk, please refer that person to the Behavioral Intervention Team so that we can help.
The BIT will evaluate the referral and determine the appropriate response and identify who is responsible for contact and outreach to the individuals affected, parents if necessary, and if notification to another University officials is warranted.
Recognizing that individual situations may be unique and sensitive to a variety of needs, the BIT may consult University departments with whom partnerships have been established to ensure a coordinated response. In some cases, the person of concern may simply be referred to a member of the BIT who may have exclusive training or skill sets best suited to serve that person’s needs.
7. How do I make a referral to the BIT?
There are several ways to make a referral to the team.
You may click the link on the BIT team main page to open a brief reporting form. Please complete as thoroughly as possible to help the team determine urgency and next steps.
You may directly contact a BIT member to make a referral. A list of members and contact information can be found from the members link on the main BIT page.
Please be aware that members may not monitor email or phone 24/7.
Please always contact YSU police if your concern is an emergency.
8. Can I make an anonymous referral to the BIT?
The university will, to the extent possible, respect the wishes of reporters concerning their anonymity, but there may be situations where the identity of the reporter will need to be disclosed or will become apparent because of the actions taken to address the situation. Please note that the BIT may need to ask questions of the referral source in order gather additional information to best address the concerns shared.
The university will, to the extent permitted by law, maintain the confidentiality of the conversation except as needed to make referrals or follow up on the subject discussed. In some instances however, the university may be required to release information in response to a court order, subpoena, or open records request.
9. What does the BIT need to know?
Providing as much factual information as possible is essential for the BIT team. Please ensure to provide as much of the following as you know:
- Person of concern’s name and ID number (if known)
- Factual description of the incident(s) or behavior(s) of concern
- Direct quotes whenever possible
- Where and when the incident or behavior occurred
- Names and contact information of witnesses
- Your name, position and complete contact information
- Include all emails or other information you have
- Voice recordings, text messages and emails are very helpful to the team
The BIT team receives information from across campus; therefore, faculty and staff members also are encouraged to report problematic, disruptive, or anti-social behaviour that, although might not trigger serious concerns in isolation, may raise concerns if combined with reports from other sources.
10. What happens once I make a BIT referral?
Referral to the Behavioral Intervention Team:
Any member of the YSU community may refer a person to the Behavioral Intervention Team either by contacting one of the Behavioral Intervention Team members listed on the left, or by completing the referral form on this website.
The Behavioral Intervention Team member assigned to the person will begin to gather information relating to the incident in order to best be able to assess and address the concerns presented.
The Behavioral Intervention Team will meet to determine the level of concern or threat presented. By putting the pieces together from across campus, and using diverse multidisciplinary perspectives from Mental Health, Law Enforcement, Student Affairs, and Academics we will analyze the situation and assess for risk in order to know how next to proceed.
Informal or Formal Resolution:
Referrals may be addressed through informal or formal channels, depending on their individual characteristics and the level of the threat. Examples of actions that may be taken are Monitoring, Referral to Appropriate Resources, Referral to the Student Conduct process or Human Resources (for employees), Recommending Interim Suspension to the Associate Vice President of Student Experience, and Involuntary Hospitalization when appropriate. Numerous factors will impact which actions are taken, and great care will be given to ensure the appropriate intervention for both the person of concern and the campus community are taken.
The Behavioral Intervention Team will continue to monitor people referred in order to best ensure their success and safety.
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