Managing Students in Crisis: Implementation of a Crisis Intervention Project in a School of Nursing

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Carleen Graham, MSN, RN, NY-SAFE
Joana Velasquez, MS, RN, CNOR
Phillips School of Nursing at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, New York, NY, USA


The purpose of the project is to develop policy; create and train a designated team of faculty and staff how to recognize and respond to students experiencing symptoms of behavioral health problems and/or who may be in crisis; and provide services to students who might be experiencing distress in the classroom or clinical setting. Project goals include: (a) developing a policy and action plan for effectively dealing with students in crisis, (b) enhancing student, faculty, and staff awareness of the impact of behavioral health problems on student success, and available resources for students in distress, and (c) providing immediate services (counseling, referral) for students in distress.


An in depth needs assessment will be conducted in order to further substantiate the need for the RISC project. A team of faculty and staff will be specially selected based on their desire, availability, and commitment to participate in the project. The team will consist of six members including representation from administration, full and part time faculty, and staff. A major portion of the project will involve training and preparation for project development. The training itself is through Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), an evidence-based training program designed to improve mental health literacy. The concept is based on the model of medical first aid.

A subject matter expert will be recruited to train the team and work on a consultant basis with the program coordinator and members of the team for a period of 4-6 months. The consultant will work with the program coordinator on policy and procedure development, collaboration with community services, and coordinating with other entities for training. The consultant will also provide the program coordinator training on a 5-day Instructor certification course that builds on the 8 hour MHFA course and provides an in-depth instruction on facilitating the course. The addition of the instructor course will allow the coordinator to provide the MHFA course to other schools of nursing in the community, and maintain certification of PSoN team members; which in turn, will allow for sustainability of the program.

Both quantitative and qualitative methods will be used for data collection. An internal assessment will be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness for the proposed program. Two pre- and post-test surveys will be developed, one designed for the faculty/administration and the other for students. The relationship between the development and implementation of RISC at the school and the attrition and completion rate will be measured by using Pearson correlation. Evaluation of the program effectiveness and outcomes will be ongoing and used for program improvement.


The proposed program will develop and implement a crisis intervention and management program; create and train a designated team of faculty and staff on how to recognize and respond to students experiencing symptoms of behavioral health problems and/or who may be in crisis; and provide services to students who may be experiencing distress in the classroom of clinical setting. The results of this one-year pilot program will be disseminated to other colleges regionally and nationally through presentations, for example, at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the National League for Nursing, and the New York State Council of Hospital-based School of Nursing. The Co-principle investigators will also prepare a manuscript for submission to peer-reviewed journals for possible publication. Finally, the Co-PIs also have expressed interest in holding webinars for other nursing schools to share experiential advice with others interested in developing such a program.


The literature revealed that crisis intervention models would promote help-seeking behaviors in college students and minimize the stigmatization and negative attitudes these students face when dealing with mental health issues. The proposed program supports PSoN’s mission to improve student learning in higher education by piloting a crisis management program that will promote academic success and emotional well-being for nursing students. Lack of appropriate treatment for students with behavioral and/or alcohol and drug use disorders pose significant challenges for nursing students. In spite of these challenges, schools of nursing present great opportunities for improving prevention, identification and treatment of behavioral disorders in nursing students