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NOVACares Program

  • students talk with their professor in outdoor garden

Welcome! NOVACares works with all members of the NOVA Community. Our program makes it easy to request assistance and/or document behavior. There are currently five primary classifications for categorizing incident reports:

  1. Academic Integrity Violation
  2. Concerning Behavior
  3. Disciplinary/Criminal
  4. Sexual Misconduct
  5. For Your Information (FYI)

NOVACares responders are trained to address every report. All incident reports submitted through the NOVACares system are reviewed and assigned to an appropriate responder based on the information in the report. Concerning behavior should be reported right away.

Examples of concerning behavior are:

  • classroom disruption
  • self-destructive behavior
  • negative change in academic performance
  • writing or drawings that convey intentions of self-harm or harm to others
  • significant changes in attitude or personality
  • unusual or bizarre behavior
  • incoherent speech
  • intoxication
  • victimization
  • overly stressed
  • unresolved medical issues
  • violation of academic integrity (ex. plagiarism and cheating)
  • violent or threatening behavior and/or communication

If a situation requires an immediate emergency response, please contact NOVA Police at 703.764.5000.

Our responders consist of members of the NOVA Community such as academic deans, deans of students, Title IX, CARE team members, Human Resources, NOVA Police, NOVACares case managers and Sexual Assault Services. NOVA is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for every student. If you See Something, Say Something!

We understand that issues arise outside of the classroom that make it difficult for you to be successful in class. NOVACares hopes to facilitate early intervention for these issues so that you can focus on your academic goals and enjoy your time as a student at NOVA. Self-reports can provide you with resources for self-care, mental health counseling, homelessness, obtaining health insurance and more.

NOVA does not provide mental health services (per VCCS policy), but we do provide faculty, staff and students with appropriate referrals for mental health intervention and services.

The NOVACares Program also offers consultations for faculty and staff. We develop community partnerships and resource lists. We coordinate and schedule professional development workshops on a variety of topics. We are always receptive to requests for additional information. Please take your time to explore the many resources this site has to offer students, family members, faculty and staff. Feel free to contact us for more information.


Learn more about the NOVACares process.
Why is incident reporting important?
  1. Admin Council endorsed the use of the NOVACares Reporting System and database as the college’s official record of concerning behavior and intervention.
  2. The NOVACares database prevents silos of information that may occur within departments and/or campuses. Because an individual may visit or attend multiple campuses, the database will track all incident reports about the individual.
  3. The NOVACares database allows for identification of multiple concerns across the college.
  4. Most concerning behaviors do not require police involvement. People are sometimes unsure of where and when to report concerns. NOVACares ensures that your report will be dealt with by the most appropriate responder.
  5. NOVACares allows the college to address concerning behavior proactively in the absence of a college counseling center.
  6. People typically tell their peers, friends, parents and/or workmates about concerns. The online form is the next logical step to share concerns that bother them.
  7. The NOVACares database report may identify witnesses that can provide a fuller perspective of the situation and, thus, a more thorough investigation of the incident.
  8. Perpetrators of serious campus violence don’t just “snap.” They have a history of acts and communications that may seem small individually, but collectively, can map out a pattern of escalating behavior.
  9. Incidents may or may not be impulsive or random; reporting may allow identification of the risk potential of an individual.
  10. It is a means of identifying and documenting acts of predatory, targeted violence.
  11. It is a tool for prevention. Most of those who commit acts of violence “plan, prepare, and discuss with others before the attack!”
  12. The system creates a centralized process to oversee college behavioral concerns.
  13. The response to a NOVACares database report may help an individual understand early on that their behavior is not OK before it continues or escalates. It allows staff to intervene and make a difference.

It is a great tool for problem-solving and maintaining campus safety!

Resources

Academic Support Services

Visit the Advising and Counseling page for counseling support for career, transfer, retention (academic success) and disability issues.

Campus Counseling Services

If you are a new student or have questions, a counselor will help guide you through the sometimes confusing administrative procedures and requirements. All NOVA campuses have counselors available by appointment or walk-in. Academic advising helps you to plan a program that will meet your educational objectives. If you cannot come to campus to meet with your advisor, Online Virtual Advising is available to you.

Speak With a Virtual Advisor

Virtual advisors are available by chat or email.  Please have your NOVA Student ID number available.

Via Email:
AcademicAdvising@nvcc.edu; emails are answered within 24 hours.

Online Chat:          
Click on the Live Chat link to talk with a virtual advisor.

Online Student Success Strategies

StudentLingo

Alcohol/Drugs - Education & Intervention

Adapted from ULifeline.

Do you think you have a problem with alcohol or other drugs?

Take the test to learn more

Getting Help

If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol or drugs, contact your campus counseling center to help connect you or your friend with a therapist, group counseling or rehab program. Appropriate medical treatment may be necessary if someone is suffering from withdrawal. Substance use can seriously impair judgment and suicidal thoughts can be very real. Seek help immediately if you or a friend is showing signs of suicidal behavior.

Substance abuse can be treated. Treatment programs use both counseling and medications to help people stop abusing substances and rebuild their lives.

Recovery from addiction can sometimes be a life-long challenge. Sobriety can be an ongoing process that requires regular monitoring. Treatment focuses on teaching coping skills to help avoid temptations, maintaining a substance-free lifestyle, and dealing with cravings or relapses. Addiction is manageable and shouldn't stand in the way of a successful, productive life with proper treatment.

Additional Resources/Information Sites:

Autism Spectrum
Faculty & Staff

Employee Assistance Program

Sometimes you may need some extra help. If you have insurance through work, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers free and confidential assistance. This is the DHRM page that lists the phone number for EAP for each insurance provider for State employees.

Tips on Classroom Management

Students in Distress

Autism Spectrum

Food Pantries

If you are in need of food, please contact your campus counseling center for possible resources and/or referrals.

  • The food pantry on the Alexandria Campus is open to all students who are homeless, hungry, unemployed or underemployed. Visit the Student Service Center, Bisdorf, AA194.
  • The Annandale Campus Food Pantry is open to the Annandale Campus community. If you need assistance with food, please contact: 703.323.2154 or 703.764.0122 and have your valid NOVA ID available. The Food Pantry is open Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • The Manassas Campus Food Pantry will open soon. Contact: Marcie Schreibman, Student Life Coordinator x43057 or Cari Dresser, Student Life Advisor, x43046.
  • SERVE Hunger Resource Center (Manassas area)
  • 2-1-1 Quick Help: A list of social and community resources (ex. shelter, food, clothing, crisis intervention) in the areas surrounding NOVA campuses. For individualized assistance, just dial 2-1-1 to connect to a resource specialist.
  • Connect VA: Search engine to find social service resources. 
Grief & Loss

Individual and group therapy can enormously help individuals deal with grief. Below are some local and online resources.

What You Need to Know About Grief Support Groups

Many people feel shy about joining a Grief Group, but support groups are a time-tested method of helping people struggling with all sorts of difficulties. No one has a magic formula for “fixing” grief, but it is often helpful to be with others who deeply understand how you are feeling. A Grief group can provide members with validation and understanding of the intensity of their experience. It can combat isolation by providing members with a compassionate community that will support them in their struggle, while allowing members the opportunity to share their strengths and coping strategies.  This sharing provides affirmation and hope that one can survive loss.

Hospices

  • Capital Caring: 1.855.571.5700 (Northern VA, DC, Prince Georges)
  • Vitas Hospice: 703.270.4300 (multiple locations)
  • Blue Ridge Hospice: 540.313.9200 (Counties: Frederick, Clarke, Warren, Page, Shenandoah, Loudoun, Fauquier, Rappahannock)

Most hospice centers provide grief support groups that are open to those regardless of whether hospice services were used. Some hospice centers also provide short-term, individual counseling.

Hospitals

  • INOVA Life With Cancer: 703.698.2526 (Fairfax): Counseling, Groups, Referrals

Non-Profits

Other Grief Support Resources

Funeral homes and places of worship also have grief support resources and may be able to help you locate a support group.

Homeless
Human Trafficking

National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline 1.888.373.7888

Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain.

Every year, millions of men, women and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States. It is estimated that human trafficking generates billions of dollars of profit per year, second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable form of transnational crime.

Human trafficking is a hidden crime as victims rarely come forward to seek help because of language barriers, fear of the traffickers and/or fear of law enforcement.

Traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. They look for people who are susceptible for a variety of reasons, including psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, lack of a social safety net, natural disasters or political instability. The trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.

Many myths and misconceptions exist. Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. Not all indicators listed are present in every human trafficking situation and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.

The safety of the public and the victim is paramount. Do not attempt to confront a suspected trafficker directly or alert a victim to any suspicions. It is up to law enforcement to investigate suspected cases of human trafficking.

LGBTQ

NOVA is committed to providing a safe, inclusive and diverse environment for our students to achieve their academic goals. We hope that our students and staff take advantage of LGBTQ support and resources both on and off campus. There are some clubs at various NOVA Campuses; please inquire with your campus Student Life Center for locations.

Local Community Resources
Mental Health

Mental Health Provider Database

Because Northern Virginia Community College is unable to provide campus-based mental health services for our students, we have created a database of mental health professionals available throughout the Northern Virginia, DC, Maryland area who are licensed to provide psychotherapy and medication management. The Mental Health Provider database allows you to search for a provider by discipline, specialty, gender identification, insurances accepted, location and public transportation accessibility. We suggest that you click on a provider to explore their personal statement to get a better idea of which ones might be the best fit for you. The Mental Health Provider Home Page also includes information on how to choose a therapist and offers information and resources for addressing grief, substance abuse, Veteran’s concerns and LGBTQ support.

Local Community Based Providers

*Some may offer free services or sliding scale fees.

U-LIFELINE is a website for college students containing information on mental health and emotional wellness with community and campus resources. Additionally, ULifeline’s Self Evaluator can help individuals find out if a mental health issue such as depression or an anxiety disorder could be impacting their thoughts, feelings or behaviors. All self-evaluations are confidential.

Stress Management

Stress Basics – Definition by Mayo Clinic Staff:

Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life. Surveys show that many Americans experience challenges with stress at some point during the year.

Your brain comes hard-wired with an alarm system for your protection. When your brain perceives a threat, it signals your body to release a burst of hormones to fuel your capacity for a response. This has been labeled the "fight-or-flight" response.

Once the threat is gone, your body is meant to return to a normal relaxed state. Unfortunately, the nonstop stress of modern life means that your alarm system rarely shuts off.

Stress management is important. Stress management gives you a range of tools to reset your alarm system.

Your body is always on high alert without stress management. Over time, high levels of stress can lead to serious health problems. Don't wait until stress has a negative impact on your health, relationships or quality of life. Start practicing a range of stress management techniques today.

Mayo Clinic Staff

Half of Us is a website devoted to college students who are experiencing stressors and emotional challenges that often come with campus life. Testimonials, resources, and coping strategies are offered to students to remind them that they are not alone in their struggles.

MindYourMind is a website for emerging adults to access information, resources and tools during tough times. Help yourself and others. Share what you live and know.

ReachOut provides information and support to overcome mental health issues like stress, anxiety, bullying and suicide.

ADD - Panic Attacks PDF

Try a Great Breathing Exercise to Help You De-Stress

Suicide Prevention and Hotlines

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

PRS Crisis Link Hotline (Northern Virginia area suicide and stress hotline)

Why Call Our Crisis Link Hotlines?

  • talk with someone who cares about you
  • talk with an empathic person if you feel you might be in danger of hurting yourself
  • find referrals to mental health and other community services
  • get ideas and tips about how to help someone you’re concerned about

Although suicide prevention is our primary mission, people call for many reasons, including (but not limited to) the following:

suicidal thoughts • physical illness • information about suicide
relationship problems • to help another person • family problems
find help after a disaster • help for veterans • information on mental health/illness
homelessness • abuse/violence • loneliness
substance abuse • family problems • sexual orientation issues
depression • financial problems • teen issues

Suicide Prevention in College *This website offers a wealth of information about suicide, however NOVACares does not endorse any services offered on the site.

How to Help Someone in Suicidal Crisis

Veterans Resources

NOVA is committed to serving our veteran students and their families by ensuring they have access to a wealth of support. Virginia Veteran & Family Support (VVFS), formerly known as the Wounded Warriors Program, provides each campus with peer specialists who can meet with students individually on or off campus.

For veterans in crisis and/or their families and friends:

Veteran PTSD Support Groups

NOVA’s Office of Military and Veterans Services

Our office and the Military and Program Advisors provide guidance on certification requirements and act as liaisons between NOVA and the Department of Veterans Affairs, while assisting you in your transition from the military to being a student. In addition to you using your educational benefits, our goal and mission is centered on our students' success in their academic studies; which includes making sure each recipient understands the policies and regulations of each benefit.

Legal Information

Virginia Laws

Virginia Code that gives authority to establish and operate campus violence prevention committees and threat assessment teams.

AUTHORITY FOR A TEAM VA Code § 23-9.2:10. B. The board of visitors or other governing body of each public institution of higher education shall determine a committee structure on campus of individuals charged with education and prevention of violence on campus.  Each committee shall include representatives from student affairs, law enforcement, human resources, counseling services, residence life, and other constituencies as needed.  Such committee shall also consult with legal counsel as needed.  D. The board of visitors or other governing body of each public institution of higher education shall establish a specific threat assessment team that shall include members from law enforcement, mental health professionals, representatives of student affairs and human resources, and, if available, college or university counsel. Such team shall implement the assessment, intervention and action policies set forth by the committee.

Virginia Code that allows the team to access criminal history record information and health records for the purpose of threat assessment and case management.

RECORDS ACCESS VA Code § 23-9.2:10. E. Each threat assessment team shall establish relationships or utilize existing relationships with local and state law-enforcement agencies as well as mental health agencies to expedite assessment and intervention with individuals whose behavior may present a threat to safety. Upon a preliminary determination that an individual poses a threat of violence to self or others, or exhibits significantly disruptive behavior or need for assistance, a threat assessment team may obtain criminal history record information, as provided in§§19.2-389 and 19.2-389.1, and health records, as provided in§32.1-127.1:03. No member of a threat assessment team shall re-disclose any criminal history record information or health information obtained pursuant to this section or otherwise use any record of an individual beyond the purpose for which such disclosure was made to the threat assessment team.

This section of Code is specific to dissemination of criminal history records information.

CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORD INFORMATION VA Code: §19.2-389. Dissemination of criminal history record information.  A. Criminal history record information shall be disseminated, whether directly or through an intermediary, only to: (25.) Members of a threat assessment team established by a public institution of higher education pursuant to §23- 9.2:10, for the purpose of assessing or intervening with an individual whose behavior may present a threat to safety;

This section of Code addresses the dissemination of juvenile records information.

JUVENILE RECORD INFORMATION VA Code: 19.2-389.1. Dissemination of juvenile record information. Record information maintained in the Central Criminal Records Exchange pursuant to the provisions of §16.1-299 shall be disseminated only: (x) to members of a threat assessment team established by a public institution of higher education pursuant to § 23- 9.2:10, to aid in the assessment or intervention with individuals whose behavior may present a threat to safety.

Virginia Code that allows health care entities to share information from health records with a threat assessment team when the records have to do with a student at that Virginia college or university.

VIRGINIA HEALTH RECORDS PRIVACY ACT VA Code: § 32.1-127.1:03. Health records privacy. D. Health care entities may, and, when required by other provisions of state law, shall, disclose health records: (35.) To a threat assessment team established by a public institution of higher education pursuant to §23-9.2:10 when such records concern a student at the public institution of higher education, including a student who is a minor.

The Virginia Code now also allows threat assessment team records to be excluded from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

TAT RECORDS EXCLUSION FROM FOIA VA Code:§2.2-3705.4. The following records are excluded from the provisions of this chapter but may be disclosed by the custodian in his discretion, except where such disclosure is prohibited by law:  (8.) Records of a threat assessment team established by a public institution of higher education pursuant to§23- 9.2:10 relating to the assessment or intervention with a specific individual.

Threat Assessment Team (TAT) RECORDS EXCLUSION FROM FOIA

However, in the event an individual who has been under assessment commits an act, or is prosecuted for the commission of an act that has caused the death of, or caused serious bodily injury, including any felony sexual assault, to another person, the records of such threat assessment team concerning the individual under assessment shall be made available as provided by this chapter, with the exception of any criminal history records obtained pursuant to§19.2-389 or 19.2-389.1, health records obtained pursuant to§32.1-127.1:03, or scholastic records as defined in§22.1-289. The public body providing such records shall remove information identifying any person who provided information to the threat assessment team under a promise of confidentiality.

REPORTING OF ACTS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE VA Code 23-9.2:15.  Requires each institution of higher education or private nonprofit institution of higher education to establish a review committee for the purposes of reviewing information related to acts of sexual violence that are reported to the Title IX Coordinator or his designee.  The review committee may be the threat assessment team established under 23-9.2:10. The review committee may obtain law enforcement records, criminal history record information, health records, available institutional conduct or personnel records, and known facts and circumstances of the information reported or known to the institution or law enforcement.  The review committee shall conduct its review in compliance with federal privacy law, meet within 72 hours to review the information and shall meet again as necessary as new information becomes available. At the conclusion of the review, the Title IX Coordinator and the law enforcement representative shall each retain authority to proceed with any further investigation or adjudication allowed under state or federal law.

Federal Laws

ADA “DIRECT THREAT”

  • Change in interpretation of ADA Title II, regarding definition of “Direct Threat.”
  • Clarifies “threat to self” not included as exception to accommodations requirement under disability law.
  • Remaining option: exception based upon “direct threat to others.”
  • Can still remove based upon criterion of “not otherwise qualified.”

TITLE IX “DEAR COLLEAGUE” LETTER

  • Responsibilities of Title IX coordinator.
  • Handles sexual assault investigations.
  • Handles sexual harassment allegations.
  • Questions about overlap with threat assessment teams.
  • Recommendation is strong liaison relationship, frequent communications.

HIPAA

  • Protects the confidentiality of information in health/mental health records.
  • Include exceptions where information can be shared in situations where a patient is a threat to themself or others. In such situations where a mental health professional is aware that the patient has threatened harm to themselves or to someone else, the mental health professional has the duty to warn someone or to do something to protect the victim in question.
  • Under HIPAA and state laws, confidentiality is held by the client or patient, NOT the mental health professional. The threat assessment team can always ask the person in question for their permission to access their mental health records and talk with their mental health professional. The team needs to get the person’s permission in writing. 
  • Once records are transferred to the College, HIPAA no longer applies – they are protected under FERPA as educational records.

FERPA

  • Should not be an impediment to effective threat assessment and case management.
  • Governs records only, not observations, communications, etc. TAT members can ask and faculty/staff can share their observations, etc. about a student.
  • Does not govern police records.
  • New guidance from USDOE encourages information sharing where public safety is a concern.

Does not permit a private right of action, meaning that individuals or institutions cannot be held liable for violations of FERPA. There have been no instances to date, where an institution has received monetary sanctions for violating FERPA. It is more likely that an institution would receive some added training from USDOE if it were found to have shared information in violation of FERPA.

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