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Team assists OTC students facing challenges

Being a college student presents a host of challenges and sometimes those challenges can result in a student needing help in difficult times.

The Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) at Ozarks Technical Community College was recently established to work with students who need assistance with issues that span from class absenteeism to threats of self-harm or harm to others.

“The main purpose of the team is to identify students who may be struggling and offer them resources to help them through a difficult time in their lives,” said Joyce Thomas, director of counseling and advising at OTC.

Five faculty and staff make up the core team. About two dozen more faculty and staff are on the advisory committee. A page on the OTC Web site allows faculty and staff to report issues of concern about a student at

“The team collects and reviews all information and evidence to define specific problems and behaviors. Where there is no threat of imminent danger, the team determines the appropriate approach to address the behavior,” Thomas said.

Clues to a student who is struggling with issues include excessive absences, changes in personal hygiene, falling asleep in class, poor attendance and excessive weight changes.

“We aren’t going to pounce on everyone reported but it would be foolish not to take a more proactive, consistent approach. We want to take that proactive approach with services that will help students before they reach a crisis stage,” Thomas said.

Based on what the team finds, students can decide themselves on receiving free counseling. In other cases, Thomas said, no response may be necessary or immediate intervention might be called for.

“In some cases, the best way for faculty to approach a student is just talk to them about their concerns,” Thomas said.

Faculty and staff are receiving training over the next few months in how to use BIT and how to help identify students who may need assistance.

“We want to provide a way to identify students whose behavior is of concern and assist in protecting their health, as well as the members of the OTC community,” Thomas said.

Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications at Ozarks Technical Community College. Contact him at


College Director of Communications

Phone: 417.447.2655


Steve Koehler

Coordinator of Publications

Phone: (417) 447-2666


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