College employs new after-hours protocol for responding to mental health crises

SUNY New Paltz has established a new after-hours protocol for students with mental health concerns so that they can receive triage services without having to call the University Police Department (UPD).

Previously, the Psychological Counseling Center (PCC) relied on centralizing after hours and weekend emergency calls via UPD who would immediately contact the assigned Emergency Counselor for Student Consult (ECSC).

Now, with a new system in place, such calls will be answered by a private answering service with extensive experience in managing calls from college students.

“While we will continue our longstanding collaborative relationship with UPD and seek their assistance when necessary, we will remain sensitive to the stimulus effect that an officer in uniform can at times trigger in an individual when enforcing public health policy,” said Dr. Gweneth Lloyd, director of the Psychological Counseling Center. “PCC counselors are highly experienced and skilled in conducting crisis assessment with corresponding intervention via the phone and have been successfully doing so for years.”

During campus community town halls about racism this summer, the College received feedback from community members seeking an alternative to calling UPD when experiencing a mental health crisis late at night. For that reason, the PCC has contracted with an answering service specifically tailored to the needs of our New Paltz community to access the ECSC directly and bypass UPD.

In the event of a mental health crisis, the College community is encouraged to call (845) 257-2920 to be connected with a counselor, day or night.

To learn more about the Psychological Counseling Center on-campus visit this link.

“While we were often the first point of contact for those middle-of-the-night calls, we understand and support the College’s decision to have those calls sent first to a PCC counselor who can then reach out to us if and when our intervention is necessary,” said Chief of University Police Mary Ritayik. “If there is an emergency we will respond and work with the counselor on call for that emergency.”

The PCC provides preventative and clinical services (via tele-counseling) to the SUNY New Paltz community including time-limited individual psychotherapy, group counseling, psychiatric consultation, referrals, outreach programming and training, consultation and crisis intervention.

In addition to utilizing the after-hours services, New Paltz students are always welcome to call the PCC at (845) 257-2920 during business hours to schedule a formal appointment with a counselor. Services will be provided by phone or tele-counseling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more about SUNY’s new and existing mental health resources for students online.