Responding to Students of Concern

Best Practices for Behavioral Intervention Teams

Topics: Student Affairs, Student Health and Wellness, Mental Health and Counseling, Student Health Centers, Alcohol and Drug Use, Student Experience, Special Populations, Academic Support Programs

Practice #4: Post-Referral Communication

Essential Components in Post-Referral Communication

EAB Analysis

Beyond making the referral process easier to navigate, BITs must also build awareness and confidence among referrers. The Forum suggests that teams craft a post-referral communication designed to reassure faculty and staff that their information was received, provide next steps, and encourage further communication as needed.

Research contacts assert that follow-up communication also serves as a useful education tool. As faculty and staff members submit concerns, they learn process next steps and increase the likelihood that the referrer will feel comfortable submitting another concern in the future or contacting the team with additional information about the current case.

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Closing the Feedback Loop

Different Strategies for Post-Referral Communication

The Forum’s work reveals a range of options for implementing post-referral communication. When evaluating best fit methods for their institution, key elements for BITs to consider include time commitment, resource allocation, and community impact.

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Providing Instant Feedback

Auto-Reply Emails Establish Immediate Connection with Referrer

The least resource intense option for post-referral communication is an auto-reply message. For schools using a dedicated email address or an online referral form, this message is relatively easy to create. The Forum recommends teams interested in this approach review the example below that is adapted from NaBITA’s recent publication, The Book on BIT.

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A Personal Touch at Harper College

Email and Phone Follow-Up Expands the Referral Conversation

While an auto-reply message is a quick and efficient way to acknowledge referrals, some institutions prefer to send a personal email or call the referrer after the concern is submitted. At Harper College, an auto-reply email is immediately sent to every referrer. By the end of the next business day, an administrator will also send the referrer a personalized email that either collects more information or sets up time to speak.

Interviewees at Harper report that this approach allows administrators to gather necessary information on low-priority cases without devoting too much time to follow-up. It also gives them the flexibility to dive deeper into high-priority cases and obtain valuable information through additional conversations. Overall, their approach creates a connection with the referrer, establishing a channel for further communication and consultation.

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Sustaining Engagement Beyond the Referral

Multiple Follow-Ups Yield Intel and Alleviate Concerns

Experts suggest that BITs should also conduct a second outreach to the referrer when the case is closed or handed off for long-term tracking and management. Forum research, however, surfaced few examples of teams implementing a second outreach in a systematic manner.

The Forum believes that post-referral communication is an area where teams are still evaluating their options and refining strategies. We expect to see continued innovation and development in this area as teams look to reinforce community awareness and build trust in the BIT process.

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Practice #3: Central Point of Contact

Practice #5: Referral Gap Analysis