In Prioritizing Trust Among Students, Professors, And University

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In prioritizing trust among students, professors, and university administration, the stigma that surrounds mental health can dissipate, which allows students to take charge of their health without worrying about their academic standing. Because the stakes for treating mentally-ill students continue to increase, university choice to value liability management over student health remains short-sighted and ineffective. The mentality of liability management – the idea that colleges and universities should limit exposure to risk (legal or otherwise) when handling cases of mentally ill students – flies in the face of a trust-oriented approach, as the university removes agency from students in the administration’s best interest. According…show more content…
Universities clearly understand the liability involved with housing mentally ill students and have taken steps to avoid possibly inflammatory incidents, often at student expense. Shireen, a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and case study in a Newsweek article, is an excellent example of liability management at the cost of student health. Shireen was suffering from severe depression and engaging in self-harm, when one night she cut her arm too deeply and panicked, calling a friend for help. That friend told their resident advisor, who reported the incident to the supervisor. Shireen was called into a disciplinary hearing and threatened with expulsion unless she “she waived her [therapist-client] confidentiality and allowed her therapist to provide weekly reports to the administration” (Baker ). The university feared she would harm other students as well, though Shireen had no violent history or willingness to do so. Because the school did not trust Shireen’s understanding of her condition (and therefore her ability to seek effective treatment), they coerced her to waive her confidentiality. The forcible removal of confidentiality between therapist and client undermines the delicate relationship, as the repercussions of honestly sharing the details of her depression could spell her expulsion from school. With the lack of trust established with her

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