Mental Health Records Privacy
Communication exchanged in the course of a professional counseling relationship is privileged and treated as confidential. This includes counseling, consultation, crisis intervention, etc.; basically, any professional activity for which a private practitioner would bill. In general, most of our clinical communication would be confidential. In order to release information to a third party (i.e., parents, college officials, or others), counselors need written permission from the client.
Counseling Services does not accept “blanket” HIPAA or FERPA releases, including the medical power of attorney.
Counseling Services uses a standard Release of Information (ROI) form that is available to Elon students via the online forms portal; students may log in using their Elon username and password to complete the form. Should the online system be unavailable to the student or former student, a hard-copy of the form will be provided. A counselor will consult with the student regarding the request prior to information being released.
There are some instances in which Counseling Services will release mental health information to appropriate parties (including University administrators, parents/emergency contacts, other medical staff, public health officials) without the student’s consent in order to address an imminent health or safety emergency. Health or safety emergency provisions permit such disclosures when the disclosure is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.
Some circumstances where mental health professionals have a legal responsibility to disclose information without consent include:
• Imminent danger to harm self or others
• Suspicion or disclosure of abuse or neglect of a child, the elderly, or vulnerable adult
• Court order
• Students under 18 years of age
For instance, if there is a mental health emergency and the student is transferred to the hospital for a serious or life-threatening situation, Counseling Services will contact the Student Life Emergency Response Staff. The Student Life Emergency Response Staff may notify the designated student’s emergency contact. In the absence of a designated emergency contact or if that party cannot be reached in a timely manner, the staff will notify parents.
This exception to the general consent requirement is limited to the period of the emergency and generally does not allow for a blanket release of medical information from a student’s medical records.
Note: It is important that the student maintains and updates their contact records, including emergency contacts and parent contact information. To do so, students may log in to OnTrack to update their information.