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Caltech's New CARE Team Zeroes on Students' Mental Health

Focus is on early intervention to mitigate personal crises and promote student success

Published on Thursday, January 17, 2019 | 8:07 am

Caltech has recently created a multidisciplinary team of professional staff to identify and assist students with academic, social, and mental health needs.
Jennifer Howes, executive director of Student Wellness Services, says the CARE Team was launched last fall to take “a unified approach to identifying students who are struggling and helping to connect them with appropriate early intervention strategies.”
Howes, who chairs the CARE Team, adds, “We wanted to create an easy way for people to bring forward concerns and refer students to resources.”
Formed through a partnership among offices within student affairs, campus security, and the Staff and Faculty Consultation Center, the CARE Team grew out of the Caltech Safety Net and Caltech Cares campaigns, which highlighted support resources around campus with a particular focus on suicide prevention. The team continues this work by offering mental health education and training, and also through though Caltech Connect, an interactive learning experience to help participants recognize the risk factors and warning signs of suicide so that they can intervene.
Additionally, Howes notes, the CARE Team is responsible for the initial assessment of threatening behaviors or concerns about student safety that come from the community.
The CARE Team has an online referral form, which may be used by faculty, staff, and students to make the team aware of a student who may benefit from assistance. A team member will reach out to the student and invite them in for a one-on-one conversation to learn more about their needs and to begin developing a support plan. For example, a student who is struggling academically might benefit from tutoring support or a connection to the registrar to discuss course planning.
“This team allows us to be responsive to community concerns around safety in a way that’s designed to be helpful and supportive to students,” she says. “We use tools that look at the actual behavior or data to reduce emotion-driven or fear-based responses. This is for the protection of both the community and of the individual’s rights.”
Community members can learn more about the team, make a referral, and sign up for training at

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