Frequently-Asked Questions for WashU Cares

What is WashU Cares?

WashU Cares directs students, faculty, staff, parents and others to the resources available to help a student in need. WashU Cares is located in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (DUC 200) and works with departments and groups across campus and in the community, including the Office of Residential Life, Habif Health & Wellness Center, RSVP, Disability Resources, community health providers, the Learning Center and more.

How can WashU Cares help me?

WashU Cares is designed to be the central location for connection to resources and support at Washington University. A WashU Cares Care Manager can work with you to develop a supportive plan for success so that you can feel more in control of your decisions by knowing all the options available to you.

What department oversees WashU Cares?

WashU Cares is an independent department within Health and Wellbeing under the Division of Student Affairs.  WashU Cares is a collaborative effort between many departments and offices across the university. The goal of WashU Cares is to ensure that faculty, staff, students, and families have the resources available to them when a student requires extra assistance due to injury, illness, behavioral choices, or other concerns.

What if my concern is an emergency?

If the concern rises to an emergency level and you need to speak to someone immediately please dial 911 or call WUPD at 314-935-5555.  If you are a residential student and you’d like to connect to the RCD-on-Call you can request to be transferred to them by calling WUPD at 314-935-5555.

How are reports about concerning behaviors a student might exhibit handled?

Sexual Misconduct: WashU Cares staff will connect with the RSVP Center and the Title IX Office (WashU Cares staff are mandatory reporters).  WashU Cares staff is mandated by Title IX to report sexual misconduct violations, stalking, harassment, domestic violence, and dating violence.

WashU Cares staff who become aware of conduct that might fall under Title IX are expected to notify the the Title IX Office with the names of the parties involved and the details of the report. Confidential WashU resources that are not mandated to report include the medical and mental health resources at Habif Health and Wellness Center, RSVP Center, Sexual Assault and Rape Anonymous Helpline (SARAH) and and The Director of Religious and Spiritual Life

Physical health concerns: WashU Cares staff will work with Habif to coordinate support

Wellness check (non urgent):

On-campus students: WashU Cares will work with the Office of Residential Life staff to make contact with the student to ensure health and safety, and assess the situation to determine whether long-term follow-up is appropriate

Off-campus and grad/prof students: WashU Cares staff will attempt to connect with student via email, text or phone.

Anything affecting academic success: WashU Cares staff will connect with the student’s academic dean and or appropriate grad/professional Student Affairs contact

Housing related concerns (like a roommate disagreement): WashU Cares staff will coordinate with the Office of Residential Life to provide support and assistance

Accommodations (whether housing or academic): WashU Cares will forward to Disability Resources.

Concerns for a student in distress: WashU Cares staff will contact the reporter and student(s) involved and advise follow-up.

Concern for harm to others: WashU Cares staff will contact WUPD, provide consultation, and support to connection to care and resources

What are the on-campus counseling resources available to students?

Habif provides short-term counseling and assessment to undergraduate and graduate students. If longer-term therapy or specialized or urgent care is needed, the clinical staff will make an assessment and referral to the St. Louis community. Additionally, Habif provides group therapy as needed. Please visit the Habif website for additional information, including information on confidentiality.

Can a student’s medication be managed at Habif?

At times, students who receive therapy at Habif are also prescribed medication by a Habif psychiatrist. However, students who do not agree to concurrent therapy or who have long-term medication needs are referred to community providers.

Are there other resources to support a student’s well-being?

Yes. Health Promotion helps students focus on their individual wellness by looking at the integration of many areas of their life through areas of wellness promotion and risk mitigation. They engage students through a variety of wellness experiences across campus in an effort to manage stress and reduce anxiety while emphasizing self-care. They also provide a comprehensive education framework that addresses topics such as sexual health, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and how they impact student life. As a student, you have access to resources and information to assist in identifying risky behaviors while working together to brainstorm ideas on how to reduce your risk and implement a harm reduction strategy. Health Promotion Services can be reached through their website.

Does a support hotline exist on campus?

A student experiencing a clinical emergency after regular business hours can contact the Habif After Hours Helpline at 314-935-6666 by following the prompts, or can also visit a local hospital emergency room. During regular business hours a student may contact Habif at 314-935-6695 and ask to speak with the Mental Health Coordinator.

What medical resources are available to students?

Habif Health & Wellness Center is the primary care clinic for WashU students. Students are encouraged to use Habif as their portal of entry to other health resources as needed.  This will help with coordinating and providing cost-effective care. If a student you know is experiencing a challenging medical problem or needs assistance navigating the health care system Habif can help. Contact Habif Health & Wellness Center at 314-935-6666.

If a student is hospitalized, does anyone at WashU follow up?

WashU Cares case managers provide post-hospitalization support, coordination of care, and advocacy. A student who is admitted to the hospital or evaluated at the Emergency Room will be referred for follow-up services and case management. In the hospital, students are encouraged to sign a Release of Information and request that contact be made with WashU Cares. WashU Cares will then follow up with the student to ensure that they have a plan for on-going support. Habif remains available for consultation and to arrange assessments or treatment if the student is not already receiving care. WashU Cares will typically request that the student sign a release of information so that mental health treatment provider(s) can provide updates with the WashU Cares case manager about appointment verification and treatment progress and expectations. Although every effort is made to enhance communication with emergency response providers, HIPAA prevents the release of patient information to the University without signed consent.

Are the parents of students who have been admitted to psychiatric facilities contacted regarding their student’s hospitalization and care?

Oftentimes the psychiatric facility will contact a student’s family directly.  When we become aware that a student is hospitalized, we work with the student to have the student inform their parents of the hospitalization.

If there are unresolved health and safety concerns regarding a student’s hospitalization and/or follow-up care, we will work to inform the student’s family or emergency contact. For students who refuse treatment, pose a threat to other WashU students but do not meet the legal criteria to be held in the psychiatric unit, and students who would be disruptive to the residential environment, we will likely involve the student’s parents or emergency contact. Students who exhibit harmful, potentially harmful, or disruptive behavior toward themselves or others due to apparent medical or psychological distress, and who do not request a voluntary withdrawal or medical leave of absence, may be subject to an administrative action (see policy).

If you are aware that a student is currently hospitalized we would like you to contact WashU Cares at 314-935-4625 or via email to enable us to help coordinate a plan for the student’s return to university life.

Does Washington University have a protocol for evaluating students who are returning to school after taking a medical leave of absence for mental health?

Yes. For information regarding returning to campus following a separation from WashU, please refer to the Medical Leave of Absence policy.

What are the indicators for eating disorders and how should I report concerns that a student is demonstrating high-risk behaviors?

Concerned community members who observe any of the following behaviors are encouraged to submit a WashU Cares report:

  1. Engaging in repetitive behaviors that are disruptive to the residential community or general campus community such as (1) vomiting in public, (2) foraging or stealing food, (3) publicly observed obsessive rituals related to food or exercise or
  2. Self-harming behaviors and deterioration of physical condition as evidenced by the following:
    1. Evident extreme weight loss
    2. High rate of purging
    3. Excessive laxative use
    4. Severe restriction or severe obsessive food rituals
    5. Use of dangerous substances, or
    6. Excessive and extreme exercise behaviors (multiple episodes of exercise in one day that exceeds 60 minutes or more).

For more information about how to help and what to say, visit the Habif website:

What is the confidentiality policy for WashU Cares?

WashU Cares staff protects the privacy and security of student records as governed by FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act). FERPA protects education records but permits communication with parents and university personnel in connection of a health or safety emergency. Additionally, WashU Cares staff may be in contact with and/or may disclose information obtained through case management with other University personnel who have a legitimate educational interests.