There have been many conversations—past and present about police violence—and the ways police presence particularly impacts the physical and emotional well-being of members of marginalized communities, including BIPOC. These conversations have been brought to the forefront of our attention with the murder of Black people by police, as well as an anonymized post shared on social media specifically discussing how police contact as an aspect of MHS processes resulted in emotional harm. We are grateful to our BIPOC students for sharing their experiences on campus and, specifically, with MHS. We recognize the emotional labor and vulnerability involved with sharing these painful stories and providing this feedback. We will use this feedback to evaluate our processes, improve our services, and advocate for change at UHS and the broader system.
Our existing system has included campus police in our processes for transporting students to the hospital, if needed. We recognize that when a student is transported to the hospital, this is in response to profound distress and that this distress can be compounded by the presence of police. Additionally, when we transport students to the hospital, we hope to support their safety, which can be in direct conflict with our inclusion of police. We also recognize that it may feel unsafe for many students to access our crisis services when police are included in our process. As such, we are exploring other options instead of police in order to not compound these concerns. Historically, we have tried to train campus police to better equip them to support students. We recognize that no amount of training can fully address the impact that police have on our students and recognize the historical and systemic aspects of police that cannot be simply addressed through training and necessitate us investing in alternatives to police transport to the hospital. Consistent with transparency and accountability to our community, we commit to sharing out updates to this policy when finalized.
At MHS, we remain committed to supporting our members of marginalized communities and consider this is a priority for our organization. We are responsible for continued attention and energy toward systems change in the pursuit of social justice and equity.
We welcome patient/client feedback in order to help us better meet the needs of students and improve our services. To submit feedback about your experience with UHS, go to uhs.wisc.edu/feedback or contact the Director of Mental Health Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.