We serve currently enrolled undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students at James Madison University—whether residential, off-campus, or online.

Referrals may come from faculty, staff, students, family members, community members, or others external to the JMU community. Referrals can be made anonymously if desired.

Any individual can refer a student to Madison Cares in one of three ways:

  1. Submit a Care Referral online at jmu.edu/madisoncares or by clicking the Madison Cares graphic located on many JMU university websites.
  2. Call Dean of Students at 540/568-6468 or send an email to madisoncares@jmu.edu or deanofstudents@jmu.edu.

Visit Dean of Students located in the Student Success Center, Suite 3010.

We highly recommend that you do not promise confidentiality and be direct with the student about your concerns and the need to refer them. Reiterate to them that you are concerned about their well-being and would like for them to receive support from the Dean of Students office. More than likely, there is already trust built between you and the student and they will not be upset that you expressed care in this way.

The Madison Cares Chair will review all care referrals and gather additional information. They may consult with the referrer and other professional staff who will assist in providing support. The referrer will receive an email confirming the referral was received. The Madison Cares Chair might enact the following:

  1. Recommend the referrer provide direct support to the student in order to address the concerns,
  2. Designate a staff member to offer support and potential on-going care meetings,
  3. Recommend therapeutic support or counseling services, or
  4. Determine if the care referral needs to be submitted directly to Emergency Services or the Behavioral Assessment Team (BAT).

These meetings are generally non-confrontational and are designed to help the student navigate any additional difficulties they may be experiencing. Not all referrals result in a face-to-face meeting with the student. In many situations, staff can and do provide consultation advice to the person sharing the concern and ask that they follow-up with additional resources to make sure the student is aware of appropriate campus resources.

We prefer not to keep the referral information private unless we assess there is an imminent safety concern.  Many faculty and staff express concern that a student will over-react when the student learns that a concern has been shared (perhaps by expressing anger toward the faculty/staff member individually).

In most cases, this concern is unfounded and the student appreciates the concern has been expressed. Almost all students referred express their understanding that the referral was made based on a concern for them personally and because someone in the community cares enough to get them help. 

While referrals can be made anonymously, the fact is that sharing specific concerns with a student about their behavior is very difficult without also sharing information about the source of that information (at least generally). If you have specific concerns about how your name might be used as part of the referral conversation, please contact our office prior to submitting a referral.

The Madison Cares Network is comprised of leaders who convene monthly to discuss care-referrals. This network is led by the Assistant Dean of Students and consists of representatives from multiple university offices such as Academic Student Services, Student Life, International Student Services, Orientation, UREC, CMSS, and others.

The Behavioral Assessment Team (BAT) addresses incidents in which a student has overtly, or covertly, expressed severe threat to themselves, others, or the community (i.e. self-harm, suicide, or physical violence). Less severe situations that do not rise to the level of threat, but indicate that the student may be in some type of distress, are managed by Madison Cares. The Dean of Students office receives all referrals and makes an assessment to which team the situation should be referred to. You can use all referral methods for BAT situations.

Madison Cares is not a crisis hotline and does not function as first responders. For life threatening situations, please contact JMU’s Public Safety department at 540-568-6912 or Emergencies by dialing 911. Any reports received by Madison Cares which clearly communicate an immediate danger or emergency are referred to 911 and Emergency Services immediately.

Our office does prefer that any referrals to Public Safety also be accompanied by a Madison Cares referral. Having these referrals allows us to gather several pieces of information about a student that aids us in how we address, respond, and support a student in crisis.

Although our office maintains a very close relationship with the Counseling Center and other campus resources, referrals to the Counseling Center should always be a resource provided to the student.

Our office does prefer that any referrals to the Counseling Center also be accompanied by a Madison Cares referral. By submitting your referral to both, you ensure that your information is connected with other concerns shared about the student so those working with the student have a fuller picture of the issues involved.

As a side note, do not rely on a student’s assurance that they will visit with the Counseling Center. The Counseling Center is a confidential resource, so our office will not know if a student visited the counseling center. It is helpful for us to be able to follow up with the student and to be able to follow up with the referrer if needed. We advise you to set up a follow-up conversation with the student to talk through how things are going and to discuss other helpful referrals. Feel free to walk a student to the Counseling Center if you have time.

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