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The Red Folder is a resource to help faculty and staff recognize, respond to, and refer students in distress. It contains important tips and information about campus and community resources to support UConn students.
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Recognize Distress

Recognize Distress

UConn faculty and staff are in a position where they have frequent contact with students and may be the first to see that something seems off. Learn the indicators of student distress.



Each situation is different. Learn important tips on effective ways to respond to a student in distress.



Expressing concern and connecting the student to the appropriate resources is important. Determine what the student needs using the Response Protocol below.

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recognize distress

Recognize Distress

Be on the lookout for the following signs of distress, their intensity and frequency.


  • Sudden decline in work quality and grades 
  • Frequently missed classes and assignments 
  • Bizarre, disturbing, or otherwise concerning content in writing or presentations 
  • Repeated classroom disruptions 
  • Continuously coming to you for personal rather than academic counseling


  • Noticeable changes in physical appearance including hygiene, grooming, sudden weight loss/gain
  • Excessive sleepiness or falling asleep in class 
  • Visibly under the influence of alcohol or other drugs 
  • Seeming disoriented or confused 


  • Repeated tearfulness
  • Panic symptoms 
  • Self-disclosure of personal distress (e.g. family conflict, financial problems, depression, grief, thoughts of suicide) 
  • Verbal abuse  
  • Expressions of concern by other students 

Risk related

  • Unprovoked anger or hostility 
  • Implying or making a direct threat to self or others 
  • Academic assignments dominated by themes of death, extreme hopelessness, helplessness, isolation, rage, violence, self-injury
  • Communicating threats via email, text, social media or phone calls 
recognize distress


Use the following important tips when responding to a distressed student.

Safety First

  • If there is an imminent danger to the student, you, or others, call Campus Police or 911.
  • Stay Calm. Take a few deep breaths. Use a calm voice when talking and asking questions.

Be Proactive

  • If you notice that something seems off, engage students early on. Waiting could mean that the problem gets worse before you see them again.

Direct Questions and Active Listening

  • Ask Direct Questions. Inquire directly if the student is having thoughts of harm to themselves, suicide, or thoughts of hurting others.
  • Active Listening. Give the student your full attention. Restate or summarize what the students says so that they feel understood.

Seek Consultation

recognize distress


Expressing concern and connecting the student to the appropriate resources is important. Determine what the student needs using the Response Protocol below.

Where Should You Refer a Student in Distress?

red folder decision tree

Dean of Students:

Graduate School:

Consult and/or refer to Student Health and Wellness

Report to CARE Team



Please note the following resources to your students can use to succeed. Some of them are campus specific.

Regional Campuses

Crisis Lines

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (English)········································ 988

Línea de vida nacional para la prevención del suicidio(Spanish)······800-628-9454

Veterans Crisis Line··························································································800-273-8255

Crisis Text 24 hour Crisis line ····································································TEXT:  741741

The Trevor Project: Suicide Hotline for LGBTQ Youth·····················866-488-7386

Mobile Assessment Services ······································································860-297-0999

CT Sexual Assault Crisis Hotline ·······························································888-999-5545

Domestic Violence Hotline ··········································································860-527-0550

Emergency Shelter ··························································································211