Pitt-Greensburg’s Counseling Center and Residence Life staff have introduced the Westmoreland County Crisis Hotline to students, faculty, and staff to manage mental health crises on campus.
Gayle Pamerleau, the director of the Counseling Center, offered the resource to commuter students for years. Their 24/7 hotline allows Pamerleau to take a deep breath when off campus.
“Because we don’t have an after-hours crisis on call, if you have a loved one or someone that you’re concerned about who seems to be in distress and in crisis, they will come and assess the situation and try to help resolve things,” Pamerleau said.
This announcement came shortly after Oakland stated they were introducing the “Higher Education Assessment and Response Team,” another mental health crisis response team also known as “H.E.A.R.T,” on their campus. However, this was unrelated.
“This [crisis hotline] is in response to the needs on our campus,” Pamerleau said.
Commander Andrew Redman, the University of Pittsburgh Police Officer who supervises regional police forces, said the H.E.A.R.T program in Oakland has been successful.
“It’s progressing really well,” Redman said. “[We’ve] gotten a couple calls already with the H.E.A.R.T team. We’re really excited about the program, and we think it’s going to be really valuable.”
It is unclear whether the H.E.A.R.T program will be extended to regional campuses. Pamerleau said it may not be effective considering the other campuses’ distances from Oakland.
“It wouldn’t be helpful to send that team to the regionals to take them two hours to get to Bradford. That’s not crisis intervention,” Pamerleau said. “I’m not sure that any of the regionals have the demand to justify that level of system.”
Redman believes that spreading the program to regional campuses would be helpful to the community.
“I would be all in favor, once we get all the programming and all the procedural things all worked out, to try and expand that program if we can,” Redman said.
Pamerleau made clear that the Westmoreland County Crisis Hotline is always available to both commuters and residents.
“If we rely on that resource, it is to get an immediate response from trained mental health clinicians and that they can get here sooner than I can,” Pamerleau said. “They’re prepared to dispatch pretty much immediately unless they’re on call somewhere else in the county.”
The phone number for the hotline is 1-800-836-6010. Pamerleau does not want students to be afraid to call.
“It’s important to be clear that they’re not coming to take people to the hospital, that’s not their primary purpose. [The call] doesn’t have to come from Residence Life to come to our campus,” Pamerleau said.