Brian in the News

Dr. Brian Van Brunt appearing on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 by Kim Lueddeke  

Campus crisis teams watch for troubling behavior in efforts to prevent attacks (10/12/2012)

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Ideally, these teams are made up of between five and eight people, according to Brian Van Brunt, a vice president of the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association. Often, they include a high-level official from student affairs, as well as representatives from counseling, campus safety, judicial affairs, residential and Greek life and athletics, said Van Brunt.

One of the biggest advantages of such teams is that they allow campus officials who might otherwise not have much interaction with one another to share ideas and concerns, said Van Brunt.




Minnesota Daily by Taryn Wobbema  

At capacity: clinic battles limited resources (3/26/2012)

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Student needs have changed over the years, as more people with serious conditions have gone to college because of improvements in medication and resources, said Brian Van Brunt, the past president of the American College Counseling Association and the director of counseling at Western Kentucky University.

More students go to college already diagnosed and, if required, taking medication, studies show.

“Earlier if you had these conditions, you didn’t go to college,” Van Brunt said. “You did something else. You never dreamed you’d go to college.”


Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed by Allie Grasgreen

Counseling Conflict (3/26/2012)

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But Brian van Brunt, director of the counseling and testing center at Western Kentucky University and past president of the ACCA, called Georgia State’s decision “close to tragic.”

“There is some kind of odd math in legislators’ heads that somehow equates cutting or outsourcing mental health services with cost savings or risk reduction,” Van Brunt said. “In the end, it does neither. What it really does is pass on the cost to various departments like residential life, faculty in the classroom and front office staff who are now working with students struggling with mental health problems without proper access to care.”


The Chronicle of Higher Education by Brian Van Brunt

Giving Troubled Students the Brushoff (2/21/2012)

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“An ideal, successful, well-functioning college counseling center must serve a wide range of clients. I want to push back on the latest trend in the journals, at the professional conferences, and in online discussion groups, in which institutions seek to limit campus counseling to students who are in need of short-term, developmental care, and “refer out” those who are at higher risk or require more specialized treatment.”


Inside Higher EdInside Higher Ed by Allie Grasgreen

A Troubling Message (2/6/2012)

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But Brian Van Brunt, director of the Counseling and Testing Center at Western Kentucky University and a past president of the American College Counseling Association, said the institution was right to react.

“Students say things that are considered threatening all the time,” he said. “What makes it concerning is when it takes a degree of specificity…. When that student targets a specific person or location.” Such as the campus dining center, the Blue Wall, which was given in the letter as the meeting point.


US News and World Report by Courtney Rubin

How to Make a Smooth Transition to College (9/14/2011)

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 Stress in reasonable doses can be a good thing, notes Brian Van Brunt, past president of the American College Counseling Association. He tells students that it “keeps us working and moving ahead.” But when stress is prolonged or overwhelming, it has been implicated in a host of health problems, including impaired immunity and depression.

Students should take advantage of counseling services as soon as they start feeling overwhelmed rather than wait until the problem becomes immobilizing, Van Brunt says. “We fight against a stigma that counseling is only for those students who are weak or too crazy to make it on their own,” he says, when the fact is that most students end up enjoying counseling and often feel better “after the very first session.”


USA Today

USA Today by By Oren Dorell

School Violence More Likely in Spring than Fall (8/18/2011)

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But the fact that the recent alleged plots — in Tampa and suburban New Orleans— were thwarted is part of a growing trend.

Social media “is playing a huge role in thwarting these attacks,” he says.

Van Brunt says most plotters, thwarted or not, let details or hints of their plans become known to others. Seung Hui Cho, who killed 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech in 2007, posted pictures of himself on the Internet wielding the pistols he used in the attack.


Fox Business By Emily Driscoll

Dip Your Toes Into Campus Life Through a Summer (5/10/2011)

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For students only looking for credits, Brian Van Brunt, president of the (ACCA), recommends looking at online college summer programs, saying they are much more cost effective and more time flexible.

Students should make sure any credits will transfer to their home school before enrolling.

“Be really careful about finding out when and what credits transfer to the schools so you’re not spending all of this money and time in these classes and find out that they either only work for this one college or they’re not directly transferable,” says Van Brunt.

An on-campus program can also provide the chance to meet some potential classmates and get a feel for campus culture.

“They’re doing classes that are also engaging in the students getting to know other students” says Van Brunt. “It gives them that opportunity to make some friends and form some social connections, which are very important to be successful academically as well.”


Los Angeles Times




Los Angeles Times by Rick Rojas, Larry Gordon and Christopher Goffard

Osama bin Laden’s death removes a cloud that enveloped a generation (5/4/2011)

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Because the Sept. 11 attacks occurred at such an impressionable age for the millennials, considered to be those born after 1980, many have had a lingering sense of worry, experts say.

“They grew up with this constant pressure that something more was going to happen,” said Brian Van Brunt, director of counseling at Western Kentucky University, where students celebrated after the news of Bin Laden’s death.

The gatherings were “this massive release of tension,” as well as an attempt “to create some meaning out of it,” said Brunt, who is also president of the American College Counseling Assn.


 The Boston Herald by Associated Press

Tucson shooting suspect’s school releases records (4/16/2011)

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Brian Van Brunt, a psychologist and president of the American College Counseling Association, sent a note to those who subscribe to his group’s email list on Jan. 11 saying that he was trying to get the message out that the college did all it could do.

“I’ve been interviewed by several NPR stations and just now, USA Today,” he said. “It is, however, like pushing a rock uphill to try to make a point that … there is only so much a college can do to require a student to be evaluated by a mental health professional and these evaluations — at their best — do a poor job of predicting violence or threat of suicide.”


Hartford Courant by Kathleen Megan

For Yale Law Students, Four-Legged Stress Relief (4/2/2011)

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Brian Van Brunt, president of the American College Counseling Association, said universities and colleges are seeking creative ways to offer students relief during stressful times.

“They’ll bring in dogs and cats, sometimes entire petting zoos,” he said. Other ideas include carnivals and laser tag, he said.

The use of animals for stress relief or therapy is well-established, Van Brunt said. Western Kentucky University, where he is director of the counseling and testing center, has brought in a therapy dog for “stress debriefing” sessions after a traumatic event, such as a suicide or a deadly car accident.

In such cases, he said, there will be a guided discussion, and the dog will wander around, with participants patting the dog or not, depending on whether it helps them. College students often particularly like having a dog available, he said, because they may be separated from pets who are at home with families.



New York TimesThe New York Times by Tamar Lewin

Record Level of Stress Found in College Freshmen(1/26/2011)

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“This fits with what we’re all seeing,” said Brian Van Brunt, director of counseling at Western Kentucky University and president of the American College Counseling Association. “More students are arriving on campus with problems, needing support, and today’s economic factors are putting a lot of extra stress on college students, as they look at their loans and wonder if there will be a career waiting for them on the other side.”


USA TodayUSA Today by Oren Dorell

Schools seek aid to track trouble After Tucson(1/27/2011)

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Faculty members are seeking advice on dealing with disruptive outbursts and intimidating behavior, says Brian Van Brunt, president of the American College Counseling Association.

Jared Loughner, 22, is accused of shooting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other people, six fatally, Jan. 8. He was attending Pima Community College in November when he was banned from campus for outbursts that scared students and teachers.

At Western Kentucky University, where Van Brunt is director of counseling, staffers “are looking at what would we do if we had a similar case,” he says. His university has three or four students a year who exhibit a worrisome combination of self-isolation and simmering aggression, he says, and they’re required to accept treatment on campus as a condition of staying in school.



Colleges Struggle to Cope With Troubled Students (1-17-2011)

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Brian Van Brunt, director of the Counseling and Testing Center at Western Kentucky University and president of the American College Counseling Association, said campuses have made much progress on moving past the “silo” mentality that can keep different departments from talking and sharing information.
Still, even in the aftermath of a tragic incident that can be picked apart for lessons, clear paths forward remain elusive.

“These incidents of violence, they occur very infrequently,” Van Brunt said. “And when they do, it’s hard to draw a lot of conclusions in predicting future violence.”


News Press, Fort Myers, FLNews-Press (Ft. Myers and Southwest Florida) by FRANK GLUCK

FGCU, Edison expand counseling services amid higher demand (1/30/2011)

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Some campuses, particularly community colleges, have lagged, said Brian Van Brunt, president of the American College Counseling Association.
However, some have sped up their efforts to do so in recent weeks, he said.


USA TodayUSA Today by Mary Beth Marklein

Students’ rights weighed as colleges try to assess threats (1/13/2011)

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Pima Community College, which suspended Loughner and steered him toward mental health treatment, has been praised for following standard policies. “The school did what they were supposed to do, which is protect their school, require an evaluation,” says Brian Van Brunt, president of the American College Counseling Association and director of counseling at Western Kentucky University.


USA TodayUSA Today By Mary Beth Marklein and Brad Heath

Second-guessing red flags, action taken in Tucson case (1/12/2011)

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“It’s not illegal to be mentally ill and ranting and raving,” says Brian Van Brunt, president of the American College Counseling Association and counseling director at Western Kentucky University. It “only becomes illegal when there’s behavior attached to it that is criminally threatening. As long as they’re not imminently suicidal, we don’t have the right to commit them to a hospital.” Van Brunt says it is uncommon for a school to seek a court order that would force someone to receive mental health care. He says he makes those requests “a couple times a year,” most often when students are intoxicated or when students refuse to go to a hospital on their own.


NPRNational Public Radio by Larry Abramson

The Tucson Shootings And Mental Health Procedures (1/11/2011)

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Brian Van Brunt, president of the American College Counseling Association, says that since Virginia Tech, schools across the country have put resources in place to deal with this kind of situation. Dr. BRIAN VAN BRUNT (President, American College Counseling Association): What we see is behavioral intervention teams and threat teams or teams that meet on almost every college campus, both community and residential schools weekly, to discuss at-risk students and to develop action plans to work with the student. For most of these cases, if a student were to act up in the classroom and then was asked to complete an evaluation and they chose not to, there’s no more authority they have to have that completed beyond having the student removed from school.


New York TimesNew York Times

Dealing With Mental Disorders on Campus (1/12/2011)

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Gone are the days when counselors and psychologists, whether at a four-year college or two-year community college, can stay in their offices and wait for students with mental health problems to show up on their doorsteps. They need to include outreach and prevention programming to students who are in need. Specifically, they should go into classrooms offering presentations on suicide, mental illness and aggression. They should train key people on campus about warning signs and the importance of connecting the at-risk student to help.



Anderson Cooper 360 (aired 1/13/2010 @ 10pm EST)

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DR. BRIAN VAN BRUNT, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN COLLEGE COUNSELING ASSOCIATION: I think the case is unfolding now, Anderson, so we’re still taking some information about that. However, a college student being bizarre — I don’t know the last time Chuck was on a college campus, but simply being bizarre or acting strangely is not enough to necessitate an involuntary commitment. What we’re looking at here is, we would — if this was the policy for all campuses, that we would take anyone who was acting bizarre or strange, and require a mental health evaluation, we would have — we would essentially turn our community colleges and residential schools into inpatient psychiatric facilities. There’s a lot of bizarre or strange behavior. It’s when it crosses over into threatening other students and becomes aggressive, that’s the point where we need to take action. COOPER: But if there’s — and, again, I don’t know the answer to this, but, I mean, if you have multiple instances where the police are involved, and you have students saying and teachers saying, you know, they feel concerned, wouldn’t the campus police at least, if they knew the law, you know, make that call? VAN BRUNT: I think the campus police did take a step here. They didn’t do nothing in this case, they took it forward. They actually separated him from the college through their campus behavioral intervention team, which is a standard practice. They moved forward with the case. They went so far as to take a 22-year-old’s rights away and notify the parents. They talked directly to the parents about the situation and moved forward on it, and went another step forward, saying, before you come back to our community, you need to have a mental health evaluation. So, I think they took a number of steps to protect the community college setting there.


Los Angeles Times by Larry Gordon

UCLA stabbing brings back issue of college students’ mental health (10/25/2009)

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The Virginia Tech killings were followed last year by a deadly attack at Northern Illinois University, in which a former graduate student killed five students and himself. Since the two incidents, “campuses are more on guard and aggressive about these issues,” said Brian Van Brunt, president-elect of the American College Counseling Assn. Many colleges now require a mental health assessment for a troubled student to stay enrolled and more readily expel those who refuse to comply, said Van Brunt, who heads the counseling center at Western Kentucky University.


NewsweekNewsweek by Ricki Morell

Colleges Tap a Wider Network to Monitor Student Mental Health (1/06/2011)

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Today, mental-health counselors must do more than sit in their offices and wait for students to come to them, says Van Brunt, who is Jennifer’s counselor. Most counseling centers now run “gatekeeper” programs that train the community to act as the first responders to signs of trouble. People who see students every day—not just professors and RAs, but fraternity members, athletic teammates, and coaches—learn to watch for warning signs. In addition, since 2007, mental-health counselors on many campuses have been participating in “behavioral intervention teams,” in which they talk with other members of the university’s community and evaluate data about at-risk students. These teams, which generally meet weekly, are formal structures that universities have put in place to assess potential campus “threats,” such as suicide or violence. Many keep data through a computer system to address pressing concerns and long-term problems. “One lesson from Virginia Tech is to look at not only immediate behaviors, but also address those times when at-risk students fall off our radar,” says Van Brunt at Western Kentucky, which created a behavioral intervention team in 2008. By contrast, the gatekeeper programs are primarily focused on teaching campus members how to administer “mental health first aid.” Often, gatekeepers feed information to the behavioral intervention teams. 


Minnesota Public RadioMinnesota Public Radio by Tim Post

Minn. colleges say they watch for warning signs in students (1/011/2011)]

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Jared Loughner’s community would have most likely called the authorities if the student would have made a threat of some kind, said Brian Van Brunt, president of the American College Counseling Association. “However if you have a student who’s acting erratic in class, isn’t following along with classroom rules, is frustrating other students, that’s not something that goes to the local police,” Van Brunt said. Van Brunt said it’s hard for colleges, even if they’re closely monitoring student behavior, to make a connection between odd and erratic behavior and violence.


Huffington PostThe Huffington Post by Associated Press

Tufts Uses Dogs To Ease Student Exam Stress (12/15/2010)

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Therapy dogs have long been used to cheer up the sick and elderly. But more colleges are embracing the idea as a stress reliever and a way to engage students, said Brian Van Brunt, president of the American College Counseling Association. Schools have been developing more flashy methods over the past 10 years or so by sponsoring stress-busting events ranging from late-night yoga and oxygen bars to some school leaders dressing up as the “pizza fairy” and delivering free food. “College students are very stressed at this point of the year, and some are playing catch-up,” said Van Brunt, also director of counseling and testing at Western Kentucky University. “Going to events like these allows students to clear the brain and press the reset button.”


Inside Higher EdInside Higher Education by James Heggen

Red Bulls and Risky Behavior (6/2011, 200)

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Some campus officials go even further, questioning the conclusions of Miller’s study. Brian Van Brunt, director of the Counseling and Testing Center at Western Kentucky University, said it was hard to know what to make of Miller’s finding because the study only asked if students had consumed an energy drink on a day in the past month, but not how many. As with exercise or alcohol, Van Brunt said, consumption of energy drinks in moderation is not a problem. Van Brunt said that better indicators existed to identify this type of behavior. He suggested that other questions asked in the study would be better warning signs for people who may have risk taking behavior. For example, people with this type of behavior tend to partake in unprotected sex. As for what colleges should be doing, Van Brunt draws an analogy to credit cards. He could see a possible need for educational programs similar to those that some colleges use to warn students about getting into credit card debt, so that students don’t run into problems with energy drinks.


Star LedgerThe Star Ledger by Staff

Ultrinsic Website lets college students wager on grades at Rutgers, Princeton (8/10/2010)

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But Brian Van Brunt, president of the American College Counseling Association, believes students who use monetary gains as motivation for grades could be heading down a wrong path. “A lot of companies see college students are potentially easy marks for this kind of thing,” Van Brunt said. “It seems to me this is some kind of gateway to other things, like a step or two away from sports books, that can get people potentially into trouble.”