Collaboration, Confidentiality, and Care
There is an increasing call to attend to the needs of students in distress (Reynolds, 2013). Furthermore, research has begun to highlight links between distress, risky, or dangerous behaviors as well as issues in mental health in the higher education population (Deasy, Coughlan, Pironom, Jourdan, & Mannix-McNamara, 2014). The National Alliance on Mental Health and the Jed Foundation (National Alliance on Mental Illness & the Jed Foundation, 2016) estimate that about 20% of enrolled college students will face some type of mental illness. As such, the work of mental health professionals, which has been increasing with time, will continue to play a pivotal role on today’s campus (Kitzrow, 2009). Yet mental health in higher education is too pervasive and significant of a topic for counseling and psychological centers to handle by themselves (Joint Task Force in Student Learning, 1998; Mitchell et al., 2012). Therefore, a collaborative approach is warranted as higher education professionals strive to meet the increasing mental health demands of the student population. Case studies amalgamated from housing and residence life professionals are used to gain a greater understanding of how interdepartmental work is carried out without compromising or breaching ethical or legal regulations as set by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and/or organizational standards like that of the International Association of Counseling Services Inc. (International Association for Counseling Services Inc., 2014) Specifically, the cases demonstrate ways inter- and intradepartmental staffers can work as a team, safeguard private and confidential information, and concurrently create an environment in which care is nurtured.