Mental Health

College Mental Health Program
Assisting Emotionally Distressed Students:
Faculty and Staff Guide

What is the College Mental Health Program?

Regular contact with students at Saddleback College is typically pleasant and productive. However, on occasion we experience behavior that causes concern for us about a student’s well being. Various campus services are available to provide support for you and your students if situations of concern arise. This website is provided by the College Mental Health Program in response to your requests for recommendations and support in dealing with troubling student behavior on campus.

This website offers concrete advice and guidance on how to aid emotionally distressed students and how to refer them for on-campus help. Because of your daily interaction with students, you are in a unique position to recognize those who may be emotionally troubled. A student’s behavior, especially if it is inconsistent with your previous observations, might be a “cry for help.” Your ability to recognize the signs of emotional distress, coupled with your courage to acknowledge your concerns directly to the student, are often noted by students as the most significant factor in their successful problem resolution. Intervention and referrals from caring individuals may be the first steps in helping students regain their emotional health.

When to Immediately Call Police

- You or another person is in immediate danger
- You believe that a student is about to harm her/himself
- A student is out of control and is distrupting the classroom

Crisis Intervention Referring Students for Mental Health Services
Signs of Distress and Guidelines for Interacting with Distressed Students Program Resource for Faculty Staff and Administration
Identifying Students that Need Assistance Contact College Mental Health Task Force
Community Resources Kognito "At-Risk" gatekeeper Training for Faculty, Staff, and Students
Counseling Services

Drug and Alcohol Prevention, Intervention and Education.

Faculty, Classified Staff In-Service Training Psychological or Medical Student Appointments with Medical Professionals or Counselors

Important Contacts

Kognito “At-Risk” Gate Keeper Training  ( Identify, Assist, and Educate)

Kognito is an online training program that uses virtual role-play to help identify and assist at-risk students.  Through simulation of conversations with potentially at-risk students, the program examines common indicators of psychological distress and methods of approaching an at-risk student for referral to General Counseling or Student Health Center.  The goal of the program is to significantly increase the number of people on campus who are trained to identify and motivate help-seeking by students exhibiting signs of psychological distress.  Saddleback launched Kognito training in December 2012.  As of February 11, 2013, 38 people completed the For University & College Faculty module, 70 people completed the Friends in College module, and 41 people completed the Veterans on Campus module.  To access the online training, please go to the following Counseling Services link.


It is important to note that Kognito training is also being provided to our Associated Student Government and student club members.  This additional training of student leaders provides a unique opportunity for intervention to occur at the student level, before it becomes a full-blown crisis.  Their intervention is more likely to be addressed long before the crisis has reached the level of faculty and mental health professionals.  Earlier intervention may potentially reduce the extent of damage if the crisis is on-going for long periods of time and intensity.

Faculty, Classified Staff In-Service Training

The Student Health Center psychologists provide pre-scheduled in-service training to faculty and classified staff in identifying and assisting students who are in emotional/psychological distress, are disruptive, or who are potentially threatening.  The training is organized around three primary areas of preparedness.  First, the staff is taught and gains experience in active listening and de-escalating students who are distressed.  Second, they are provided information with how to access on-campus resources, including Campus Police, General Counseling,  and the Student Health Center for students in need.  Last, they are given detailed training on how to respond to crisis situations, with specific information on the Crisis Intervention services.

Psychological or Medical Student Appointments with Medical Professionals or Counselors

Appointments are scheduled through the Student Health Center with a doctorate level psychology interns, a Clinical Psychologist, Medical Physician or Registered Nurse. Student Services provides professional counseling faculty who are available to students and provide Academic, Career, Transfer, Personal, and Crisis Counseling. Their holistic approach allows them to assess and identify each student’s needs and commence with brief counseling. At times, there is not a clear objective in the student’s mind as to why he/she is meeting with the counselor or he/she does not want staff to know why an appointment is being scheduled.   The student may make the appointment indicating he/she wants academic advisement, but as the discussion develops, issues of a personal nature arise that need to be addressed prior to academic advisement taking place.  In some cases, counselors refer the student to other on campus or off campus resources, as appropriate.

Counseling Services

Individual, Couple and Family PsychotherapyThe levels of psychological issues treated at the Health Center include, but are not limited to, depressive disorders and suicidal ideation;  anxiety disorders, including PTSD and OCD; combat-related stress and disorders; psychotic disorders (e.g., schizophrenia and delusional disorders); alcohol and substance abuse and dependency;  relational difficulties, including parenting issues and domestic violence;  sexual abuse,  rape, and sexual harassment; sexual identity concerns, including same-sex couples counseling; immigration and acculturation problems; eating disorders, and general adjustment problems (e.g., adjustment to life changes like college, marriage, career, etc.).  When possible, students are treated with short-term psychotherapy.  Students requiring long-term care are properly referred to off-campus resources, including low-cost agencies that accept patients without health insurance. 


Cancellation Policy


You must cancel or re-schedule your appointment a minimum of 24 hours before the scheduled appointment.

Policy for Late Cancellation

You will forfeit your right to therapy services for the remainder of the semester if you have three (3) late cancellations and/or failures to keep appointments.


All links on the Student Health Center Website are provided as a courtesy. They should not be construed as an endorsement by South Orange County Community College District, Saddleback College or, Saddleback College Student Health Center of the content or views of the linked materials.

Saddleback College Student Health Center makes every reasonable effort to present current and accurate information; however, no guarantee of any kind is made. South Orange County Community College District, Saddleback College and, Saddleback College Student Health Center are not liable for any damage or loss related to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of any information contained on this site.