Safety Nets At One East Texas College - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/19/2007-Tyler

Safety Nets At One East Texas College

The Aunt of gunman Cho Seung-Hui says his family worried about his mental state long before Monday's rampage.

That raises the question. How can parents be made aware if their child is struggling with mental health problems? what is a school's responsibility?

KLTV 7's found out about "safety nets" at one local East Texas school.

The transition to college: the pressure to make new friends, and adapt to new surroundings.

Ashley Winn, UT Tyler Freshman said "it was a little intimidating at first. I mean college and i came from high school."

It can leave many students vulnerable, and some struggling with depression.

The challenge is the balance. Because on the one hand we want to be aware if a student in under distress but we also don't want to overreact and mandate counseling for someone who just had a bad day," said Dave Hill, University of Texas at Tyler Director of Residence Life and Judicial Affairs.

But what happens when a student seeks help for mental health problem on campus? These students, are considered adults by the law.

So does the school have an obligation to notify parents?

"We can disclose if it involves alcohol or drugs with the parents but we are restricted as to what we can disclose without the students consent," said Hill, "If it's a quiestion of students safety versus their right to privacy I always choose a students safety first. We can deal with the fallout of the privacy issue later."

So what can parents do?

"Regular contact is the best thing parents can do," said Hill, "a lot of students have a facebook page or a myspace page. It's a good thing for parents to check up on."

Beyond that, making sure students don't get lost in the system.

"Their friends and peers are generally going to see things that we don't," said Hill," we can't act on what we don't know."

Doctors say the more we talk openly about these things and recognize that this is part of a support system everyone should have a place.

Danielle Capper, Reporting. dcapper@kltv.com

 

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