Student Psychological Wellness | Policies

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Student Psychological Wellness

Policy regarding student psychological wellness.

Owner: Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Tags: APStudent Affairs


The College seeks to promote student academic progress and personal well-being. While many students adapt quite well to the graduate school setting, balancing the pressures of academics, family, and finances can lead to difficulty coping with everyday life. Teachers College continues its commitment to support students through campus safety and wellness. Our goal is to promote the principles of CARE (Communicate, Ask, Reach, Engage), by identifying, engaging, and assisting students who may be facing personal and/or academic concerns. 

Now, more than ever, academic settings must offer holistic support to students, designed to ensure that they are aware of the resources and support that may allow them to thrive. This Student Psychological Wellness Policy outlines an approach to educate and promote discussion about mental health wellness, focusing on strategies to keep emotional balance while meeting the demands of graduate school. Further, it aims to provide support and resources to prevent harm to self and to others, threats, disruptions, self-abuse, and violence. It also outlines procedures for crisis intervention and response. All members of the College community are expected to promote a violence-free environment.

Policy Statement

Teachers College recognizes that good mental health is a state of wellbeing, that helps individuals cope with the usual stresses of work and study, maintain healthy relationships, and better contribute to the campus community professionally and personally.

The College takes a sensitive and informed approach to mental health and is committed to ensuring the student body is aware of and responsive to the needs of those who have, or who are at risk of developing a mental health concern and assisting members of the campus community to extend their mental health education.



The College supports the needs of those who are currently well by focusing on three fundamental principles:

  • Education
  • Prevention

Educational programming helps members of the College community promote students’ psychological wellbeing and self-care. Workshops, educational groups, and publications address issues such as general principles of mental health, stress management, depression, anxiety, and similar topics related to wellness.

Programming is provided through many avenues at Teachers College including through the Office of Graduate Student Life & Development (GSL&D), Residential Services (ORS), Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS), The Office of Access for Students and Individuals with Disabilities (OASID  The Office of Diversity and Community Affairs (ODCA), and Columbia University’s Offices of Health Services and Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS). Programming is also offered throughout each academic year to faculty and staff to ensure that those working with students are aware of the resources available to assist students in the best way possible.

The College offers students first-hand resources such as orientation and support, navigating and accessing mental health resources/ providers, short-term wellness sessions, wellness programming, workshops, educational and support groups, and publications. The office provides education and consultations around themes associated with psychological wellness, self-care and ways to prevent self-harm. If a student wants to reach the Student Support Service (SSS) team they can complete an initial contact request form.  If a faculty member has a concern about a student they can complete a faculty referral form.

The Office of Student Health and Wellness offers voluntary services to the TC community.  A student must consent to meet with a member of the Student Support Service Team in order to receive services.  Students cannot be mandated to meet with to meet with members of this team.  Additionally, students are always free to discontinue services when they choose. 

The College has a system to provide wellness checks for students where there is an identified concern.  The wellness checks are performed by members of the CARES team which includes faculty and staff from various divisions in the college.  The staff member performing the wellness check will be determined based upon who is within the student’s ecology and will be able to most effectively engage the student based upon that relationship. 

All members of the Teachers College community are invited to call upon these resources for advice and assistance for themselves or others in the community.

Additionally, Teachers College is committed to accommodating qualified students who have disabilities, including psychiatric or emotional disabilities. Students seeking accommodations should contact the Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities (OASID), 301 Zankel Hall-3rd floor, Tel/Voice: (212) 678-3689,  


Crisis Response & Intervention

  • the ability to recognize specific disorders;
  • knowledge of where to seek mental health information and professional assistance;
  • an understanding of risk factors and causes of mental health problems;
  • an understanding that mental health needs to be recognized, and that those experiencing such problems should be encouraged to seek assistance;
  • knowledge and understanding of the College’s policies dealing with mental health.

The early identification of persons at risk for self-harm or harm to others is essential. Immediate help should be sought if someone has spoken about experiencing suicidal ideations, or a suicide plan; being a victim of other violence, or if someone has expressed ideations and or a plan to hurt someone. Teachers College has a Psychological Emergency Response Team (PERT), formed by key responders in various College offices and departments, in an effort to assist faculty and staff in identifying and supporting students who may be in distress and in need of assistance with issues associated with their well-being. This includes immediate assistance along with referrals and other resources.

IN AN EMERGENCY, contact one of the following immediately. All are available 24/7.



TC Office of Public Safety

(212) 678-3333 or x3333


NYC Police Department




Mt. Sinai/St. Luke’s Psychiatric Emergency Room



113th St & Amsterdam Ave

General: (212) 523-4000

Emergency: (212) 523-3335

Psychiatric Emergency: (212) 523-3347


Additionally, Columbia Health has a 24/7 Mental Health Support Line that operates under the CPS phone number after office hours and on any other day, the offices are closed, such as weekends and holidays. Any Teachers College student can reach out to a counselor on-call directly or at (212) 854-2878.


In less urgent situations, the resources below are available. 

Please note that CU/CPS Center staff provides consulting services to Teachers College personnel on issues related to suicide and threats of violence. College faculty or staff who are concerned about issues relating to suicide or threats of violence may call the office at any time at (212) 854-2878.


Columbia Counseling & Psychological Services Center

8th Floor, Lerner Hall (115th Street & Broadway)

Appointments and After-Hours Support (212) 854-2878

Hours M-Th 8 to 6:30; F 8 to 5

Office of Residential Services

1st Floor, Whittier Hall

(212) 678-3235 (phone)

Or contact any Community Assistant or other Residential Services administrator

Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Dr. Thomas P. Rock, Vice Provost for Student Affairs

528 West 121st St., Room 163

(212) 678-3083


Information Sharing

Teachers College may require information relevant to a mental health concern to assess a situation and assist a student. All student information as part of a student’s education record is bound by the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) guidelines. For specific FERPA guidelines, please refer to the Teachers College FERPA Statement found here:

Any services of Mental Health Counseling and Psychotherapy provided by the Student Support and Counseling Team (SSC) are additionally compliant with the confidentiality clauses of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), required by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and New York State's mental health confidentiality statute (section 33.13 of the Mental Hygiene Law).


Information Disclosures

If the College believes that the safety of a student, or of any other person, is at risk, the College may contact family members, individuals a student has identified as emergency contacts, or others as the College deems necessary or appropriate under the circumstances. Consistent with U.S. Department of Education guidelines, pertinent student education records may be disclosed to appropriate officials in a health or safety emergency.

Any services of Mental Health Counseling and Psychotherapy provided by the Student Support and Counseling Team (SSC) are additionally compliant with the confidentiality clauses of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), required by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and New York State's mental health confidentiality statute (section 33.13 of the Mental Hygiene Law). Exceptions to these clauses are indicated on the website of the Office of Mental Health of the New York State.

More detailed procedures for follow-up actions will be determined by the PERT protocol of case management.


Related Policies

Nothing in this Policy precludes the College from addressing student behavior through the Student Conduct Code, residential contracts, and other policies. For example, if a resident student's behavior interferes with the rights of others, the student may be removed from campus housing or may be required to comply with conditions established by the Office of Residential Services to continue living on campus. Other actions may be taken as outlined in the Housing Contract.


Annual Review

The PERT team is responsible for the bi-annual review of this policy, in collaboration with the Student Support & Counseling team.



 Appendix: Useful Definitions

“College” means Teachers College, Columbia University, and all facilities/locations under the jurisdiction of TC.

“Confidentiality” means that employees and students of Teachers College have a right to expect that confidentiality will be maintained wherever possible regarding any suspected or actual mental health concerns.

“Duty of confidentiality” requires staff to maintain confidentiality with respect to personal information, but requires them to disclose information when serious concerns arise regarding the safety of an individual or others.

“Duty of care” requires all faculty and staff to take reasonable care in view of reasonably foreseeable circumstances that may arise. Safety of students, employees, and visitors on campus is the first priority in any situation.

“Fit for work” means that an individual is in a state physically and psychologically to perform tasks assigned to them competently and in a manner that does not compromise the safety or health of themselves or others.

“Mental health” is a state of wellbeing in which the individual realizes their abilities, can work productively while coping with the normal stresses of life and is able to make a contribution to their community.

“Mental health condition” refers to both mental health issues and disorders.

“Mental health education” refers to knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders which aid their recognition, management, or prevention. Mental health education includes:

“Mental health concern” affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves, but to a lesser extent than a mental disorder. It is a broader term including both mental health disorders and symptoms of mental health disorders which may not be severe enough to warrant the diagnosis of a mental health disorder.

“Mental Health Disorder” is a diagnosable condition which causes major changes in a person’s thinking, emotional state, and behavior, and disrupts the person’s ability to study or work and carry on their usual personal relationships.

“Reasonable adjustment” is defined as reasonable when they meet the needs of the student without causing the college unjustifiable hardship. In determining "unjustifiable hardship" the factors to be considered include:

a) the nature of the benefit or detriment likely to accrue or be suffered by any persons concerned; and

b) the effect of a disability of the person concerned;

c) the options there are to meet the requirements of the person with a disability;

d) the estimated expenditure by the college; and

e) the effect (if any) on the academic integrity of a course


Responsible office: Vice Provost for Student Affairs

 Last Updated: October 2021

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