What to Do in an Emergency

If you are in an emergency and cannot reach the counseling center, please contact public safety.  After hours, public safety should be contacted in any mental health emergency.  even if you feel you can handle the emergency on your own, please contact public safety to ensure all proper protocols are followed. public safety can be reached at x 8888 or x 8524.

A few instances when treatment is necessary and public safety should be contacted immediately:

  • The student has a weapon and is threatening to harm him/herself or others
  • The student is threatening suicide (i.e., “If I leave here, I will kill myself”)
  • The student is acting in an agitated, bizarre manner and is not following simple instructions



If you are feeling very anxious or depressed and feel the need to talk to a counselor immediately, you do not need to make an appointment, just walk in. Emergencies after hours should be referred to the campus Public Safety Department.  Public Safety is also reached by calling 212-237-8888 or 212-237-8524. If you are off campus, please call 911 in an emergency.

You can also call the 24-hour toll-free telephone resources that provide immediate assistance to individuals:

  • 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355) or text “WELL” to 65173
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
  • NYC Samaritans: 212-673-3000
  • Safe Horizon Domestic Violence Crisis Hotline: 1-800-621-4673



At John Jay College, we have resources to help students who are experiencing mental health crises.  We also have resources to educate and support John Jay staff if you are concerned about a student’s mental well-being.  When you are concerned about a student’s mental health, there are a few things you can do to help:

If the situation has not escalated to a crisis:

  • Encourage the student to visit the Wellness Center.  We provide crisis counseling on a walk-in basis or via scheduled consultations with the Associate Director, Dr. Cory Head.  You can walk the student over yourself; anytime we are open, we are able to see students for walk-in crisis counseling.  The student can also call us to schedule an intake evaluation to better assess his or her treatment needs.  
  • You can reach out via phone or email to Dr. Head or Dr. Bryant to get feedback about a student’s behavior.  Additionally, if you are concerned about violating a student’s confidentiality, we can discuss the student without a name and maintain confidentiality.  We will be able to offer you suggestions on how to best approach the student regarding your concerns.  Dr. Head is reached at x 6239 or chead@jjay.cuny.edu and Dr. Bryant at x 4552 or gwbryant@jjay.cuny.edu.
  • You may also submit a report to the Behavioral Intervention Team if you are concerned about a student’s behavior.  You can access the link to submit a report on this page: https://www.jjay.cuny.edu/behavioral-intervention-team.

If the student is in acute distress, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Stay calm – the situation may provoke anxiety in you, but it’s important to stay calm so you can think clearly and help keep the student safe. Speak in a calm, soothing tone (raising your voice may increase distress).
  • Listen to the student – what they’re saying may not make sense but try not to argue or talk over them, let them talk and make sure they know that you’re listening and that you care. 
  • Ask them what support they would like – some people will know they’re unwell and may want you to contact their spouse or mental health professional, or they may know that going somewhere or doing something may help the crisis pass. 
  • Help with practical concerns – in the moment, day-to-day tasks can feel overwhelming. The student may need support with getting home, preparing a meal, finishing school work – try to think about what the student would want taken away and see if you can help the student problem-solve. 
  • Ensure they get professional support – contact public safety in a dangerous situation or when you feel your safety or the student’s safety is threatened.



Listed below are some common warning signs for mental illness/mental distress:


·       Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself

·       Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun

·       Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

·       Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

·       Talking about being a burden to others and that others would be better off if one was gone

·       Giving away prized possessions

Bipolar and Psychotic Disorders

·       Disorganized thoughts: these thoughts typically manifest themselves in speech that is disorganized to the point of not being understandable.

·       Delusions: Delusions occur when someone is convinced something is real when it’s not. Examples may include feeling like you’re being followed, that something bad is about to happen, or that someone is harming you.

·       Hallucinations: Similar to delusions, hallucinations occur when someone believes they are seeing or hearing things that don’t exist. The moment feels as real as any other to them, making it impossible to distinguish what is real and what is not. 

·       Mania or Hypomania: If someone is experiencing a manic episode, they are typically uncharacteristically upbeat, have increased energy, are more self-confident than usual, need less sleep, are very talkative, become easily distracted, and tend to make poor decisions. 

Other Warning Signs for Mental Illness

·       Disheveled appearance: a change in an appearance from an appropriately dressed student to someone who looks disorganized may indicate a change in mental state

·       Poor boundaries (i.e., not respecting personal space, talking over people)

·       Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

·       Displaying extreme mood swings

·       Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly

·       Withdrawing and isolating

If a student is showing any of the above warning signs, he or she will likely benefit from talking to a trained mental health professional.  Please reach out to us if you are unsure how to get help for the student.