The following message was shared Oct. 13 with ASSU Executive President Vianna Vo.

Dear ASSU Executive leadership,

We are writing today to follow up on our conversation last week. We are deeply appreciative of our collaborative working relationship, and we are grateful to partner with you on discussing different options for transporting students who are experiencing a mental health crisis from campus to a hospital. We also want to express our gratitude to the many students in and outside of the ASSU who have been committed to raising this issue and addressing this challenge. We are writing to follow-up on our progress and to describe our next steps.

The need to transport an individual to an emergency room for further evaluation (commonly referred to in California as a 5150 hold) is an acute and critical incident. In California, by law, the only persons who can place an individual on a 5150 protective hold are peace officers and certain mental health and medical professionals.

In our past practice, a student would be evaluated by a police officer or a mental health and/or medical professional, and then transported to an emergency room by the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (DPS). We’ve been actively working to find new options to help support students through what is a challenging time. Moving forward, and effective immediately, DPS will respond, but most transports to a hospital for a protective 5150 hold will be provided by an ambulance, generally from the Palo Alto Fire Department.

As with any transport by ambulance, there is a fee. We believe that in most cases, students’ health insurance will cover this fee minus any out-of-pocket, required premiums or co-pays. We do not want fees to deter people from seeking care or calling for assistance when someone is in distress. Please know that we will work with students who have serious financial concerns so that the ambulance payment is not a deterrent to receiving care.

We are evaluating additional alternatives — such as a multi-disciplinary mobile crisis team — for addressing student mental health concerns on campus. These opportunities will take more time to develop and will require the identification of additional resources. We look forward to our continued discussions on these topics.

Thank you for elevating this to a top priority to be addressed early in this academic year. We see this as a great deal of progress in a short period of time. Please keep in touch with us on any other concerns that may arise as we change this practice. We look forward to continuing discussions with you on how we can best respond to students and their wide range of mental health needs.


Susie and Bina

Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Bina Pulkit Patel
Director, Counseling and Psychological Services