Montana State’s Matt Caires named to national behavioral health advisory board

Monday Jan. 23rd, 2023

BOZEMAN— Matt Caires, Montana State University’s dean of students, has been named to the National Association for Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment Advisory Board. Caires is the first person from the state of Montana to serve on the board.  

NABITA is an independent not-for-profit organization that provides education, tools and resources to professionals focused on making schools safer through early behavioral intervention and threat assessment. The organization helps campus behavioral intervention teams determine the best mechanisms for support, intervention, warning/notification and response to concerning student behaviors through consulting, certifications and training. 

"Montana State is on the cutting edge of a lot of the work underway in behavioral health, and I am thrilled to represent Montana and MSU nationally,” Caires said. 

As MSU’s dean of students, Caires oversees and supports various programs including student conduct; fraternity and sorority life; parent and family relations; the MSU Women’s Center; and the Campus Assessment Response Evaluation, or CARE, program. 

The CARE program was created to promote university safety and wellness by addressing behaviors that are disruptive or concerning and may include mental health and/or safety issues.  

In 2011, as part of MSU’s CARE program, Caires helped create MSU’s first behavioral intervention team. Since then, he has been an essential part of upgrading and reshaping MSU’s behavioral intervention and threat assessment models and protocols, including updating ongoing training and resources, said Chris Kearns, MSU vice president of student success. 

"Matt Caires has been a driving force on our campus and a formative influence across the state in the field of behavioral intervention and threat assessment,” said Kearns. “Working with campus partners across all dimensions of the student experience, he has steadily moved the campus from reactive to proactive perspectives.”   

The CARE program comprises staff and support team members from the Office of the Dean of Students, University Police, Counseling and Psychological Services, Student Health Services, Student Housing, Disability Services and Veterans Services. The program aims to provide swift, coordinated, caring and developmental intervention to campus community members before a crisis. Intervention can vary depending on circumstances but may include meetings with the student and/or parent, a student conduct consultation, or a referral to the counseling center. 

"By nature, universities are large and can become siloed in communication,” Caires said, “But at MSU, with the work of the (behavioral intervention team), our goal is to break down those siloes and help students in need before a crisis can take place.”  

As part of NABITA’s 26-person advisory board, Caires will have the opportunity to write for its weekly newsletter, present a session at the annual conference and/or host a team discussion on behavioral intervention. Caires said he plans to share his experience building a behavioral intervention team at MSU with universities and professionals looking to create or improve their own such team.  

“MSU is doing many of the right things with behavior intervention and threat assessment, and I am excited to share with our peers,” he said. “And I hope this is a two-way street. I am looking forward to bringing what I learn as a member of the national board back to Montana.”