Confidentiality, Rights, and Responsibilities

Confidentiality, Rights, and Responsibilities


Grinnell College Admission Vaccination Requirements

Rights and Responsibilities

Making the Most of Student Health and Counseling Services

1. You have the right to receive consultation and treatment in a timely fashion which is commensurate with your symptoms.

Your corresponding responsibility is to be proactive about contacting Student Health and Counseling Services (SHACS) when you start to feel badly, rather than waiting until your need is urgent. You are also responsible for either attending or cancelling your scheduled appointments.

2. You have the right to be fully informed regarding your health and mental health care.

Your corresponding responsibility is to be honest and accurate in communicating with SHACS staff; to ask questions; and to be an active collaborator in exploring and implementing treatment recommendations. You are also responsible for either following through on treatment recommendations or for letting your nurse/counselor know why you are unable or unwilling to do so.

3. You have the right to refuse any recommended treatment and to request a second opinion.

Your corresponding responsibility is to communicate with your nurse/counselor regarding your reactions to treatment and to treatment recommendations.

4. You have the right to confidentiality.

Your corresponding responsibility is to understand the limits to confidentiality and to ask questions if you do not. It is also your responsibility to recognize the confidentiality rights of any other students you see at SHACS.


Your care at Student Health and Counseling Services (SHACS) will be confidential. We will neither acknowledge to others that you are a client here nor discuss your treatment here without your permission. There are some limits to confidentiality, but they occur only in extreme situations. Your nurse or counselor will discuss the limits to confidentiality with you during your first nursing or counseling appointment, respectively. You, of course, are free to discuss your care at SHACS with others.

Please note that if you are 17 years of age or younger, your parent(s) or guardian must give permission for you to receive health and mental health services and they have the legal right to be informed about your treatment. If you are a legal minor and are concerned about your privacy, you may request that your counselor or nurse speak with your parent(s) or guardian to negotiate a confidential relationship with you.

Many students find it helpful to authorize us to discuss their care at SHACS with a third party, such as their physician, faculty, or a staff member at Academic Advising. You can discuss whether such sharing would be helpful to you with your counselor or nurse. If you decide that you would like us to communicate about you with someone else, we will ask you to sign a release (authorization) form. You will determine the nature and extent of the information to be shared.

Occasionally a third party consults with our staff out of concern for a student. In those instances, unless you have already authorized us to do so, we do not reveal whether or not you are a client here nor, if you are one of our clients, information about your treatment. However, we do try to assist such third parties by providing general guidance.

Limits to Confidentiality

There are several situations in which confidentiality must sometimes be broken.


When there is a reasonable suspicion that you are at imminent risk of committing suicide or homicide, or if you describe yourself to your nurse or counselor as being at such risk, we will take action to protect your safety and the safety of others. Sometimes this will require breaking confidentiality.

Child abuse/abuse of dependent adults

If you are a legal minor and report that you are being abused by an adult caretaker, we are required by law to report this to the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS). Similarly, if you report that you are abusing a child or a dependent adult, we are mandated to notify DHS.

Court-subpoenaed records

In rare instances, the courts subpoena records. In such a case, we would work with you and with the court to try to limit the release of information to only that which was absolutely necessary.

Emergency care

If you require emergency medical or mental health care, we will provide relevant information about you to those involved in accessing and providing your care.

Student Employees

Student Health and Counseling Services (SHACS) employs students as drivers and as assistants. Each of SHACS' student employees reads and signs the following agreement:

Student Employee Confidentiality Agreement

I understand that my employment at Student Health and Counseling Services (SHACS) may include the following duties:

  • driving students to medical and mental health appointments
  • driving students to pharmacies
  • other tasks as assigned

I understand that I will not have access to student appointments or records, and I will not seek any such access. I agree to maintain complete confidentiality of any and all information regarding students whom I see at SHACS. I will neither discuss such information nor acknowledge that any student has or has not been served by SHACS.