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The Source

Welfare Intervention Network expands

September 01, 2014

In 2008, a small administrative team met to discuss how Lewis & Clark could improve its ability to respond to crisis. Those discussions laid the groundwork for the Welfare Intervention Network (WIN), a campus-wide system to identify early warning signs of mental illness and disturbing behavior, and to exchange health and safety information between departments.

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Since then, Director of Campus Safety Tim O’Dwyer and Associate Dean of Students for Health and Wellness and Chief Psychologist John Hancock have refined WIN’s communication structure and added members to the network. The Source caught up with them for the latest news on their efforts.

What does WIN look like today?

WIN, a multidisciplinary team from all three schools, strives to help the Lewis & Clark community identify warnings signs indicating that a community member is either experiencing significant health and safety risks, or that any person poses a risk to our community. As of this summer, the core WIN group consists of staff and faculty from the Graduate School, Law School, Dean of Students, College of Arts and Sciences, Counseling Service, Campus Safety, Campus Living, and Health Promotion and Wellness. A case manager assists both with the Student Support Network and WIN. Five more WIN team primary members are available to consult on cases as necessary. The core group meets regularly and collaborates to create a plan to address any situation that is referred to WIN.

Which members of our community make use of WIN?

Students, faculty, and staff from all three schools connect with WIN members to make us aware of concerns about community members. Since we began using a database to help us manage information three years ago, WIN has assessed risk issues and provided support in 75 cases.

What happens after a student, faculty member, or staff person brings an issue to WIN?

Our aim in every case is to investigate, assess the situation at hand, develop intervention plans, if appropriate, and coordinate ongoing support for anyone at risk. We also try to provide reassurance and follow-up communication when possible to community members who are making referrals, as they often are feeling uneasy.

What are some of the actions WIN takes to decrease a health or safety risk?

Here are but a few:

  • Referrals to counseling or case management
  • Consulting with faculty and staff at Campus Living and the Student Support Network
  • Referrals to off-campus mental health supports and treatment programs
  • Working to engage family or other social support
  • Consulting with Multnomah County’s Project Respond, who can provide on-site mental health evaluation
  • Human Resources and departmental interventions
  • Collaboration with the Portland Police Bureau
What is an example of a successful use of WIN at Lewis & Clark?

We like to think that every time a situation is referred to WIN, the network is “successful.” During the 2013-14 academic year, approximately 30 cases were brought to WIN and included referrals from staff, faculty, the professional schools, students, and outside sources. Some cases involved people experiencing acute mental crisis and people believed to be a threat to themselves or others, as well as people suffering from suicidal ideation, alcohol or other substance abuse, and eating disorders. Past years’ referrals have included cases involving online and in-person “stalking.”

As WIN has evolved over five years, what changes have you made?

Our team has become more experienced at managing challenging cases. Our meetings have become longer and more frequent. We have adopted an electronic database to help the team stay connected and manage information. This academic year, we began to look at establishing more protocols to be followed in some of the most difficult circumstances.

Who has joined WIN over the past five years?

What started out as a very small core group at the beginning has expanded. 

More recent additions to the team include Associate Dean of Student Academic Affairs John Krussel, Director of Campus Living Kelly Hoover, Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities Charlie Ahlquist, and Case Manager Aimee Polzin.

What challenges has WIN overcome along the way?

Three of the biggest challenges the group faced at first included providing training for all WIN members, setting up a database to track our work, and creating community awareness about our efforts. 

Several years ago, Marisa Randazzo, a nationally known consultant, came to campus and provided training for all WIN members. Being able to access and review historical data is also critical as we seek to provide continuing, consistent support. This summer, we transitioned to Maxient, a new database.

A continuing challenge is getting the word out to the community regarding our efforts. Some community members are not aware of how WIN can help, or think that by contacting WIN, they will get someone “into trouble.” WIN doesn’t get community members into trouble—it helps them out of trouble when faced with health and safety issues. Our goal this year is to continue education on the academic, physical, psychological, and safety risk indicators that make referrals to WIN prudent.   

Click here for more information about WIN, its makeup, and its mission.

Find an earlier story on WIN here.

Caleb Diehl ’16 contributed to this story.