Red Folder Initiative

Assisting Students in Distress

A guide to help recognize, respond to, and refer distressed students at Juniata College.

Preparing to Reach Out

  • Know the available campus resources and the referral process
  • If safe, meet privately and always allow sufficient time to meet
  • Ensure your safety
  • If you decide not to have direct contact with the student, refer the incident immediately
  • Contact JCPS if a student expresses a direct threat to self or others, or acts in a bizarre, severely irrational or disruptive way

Connecting With the Student

  • Clearly express your concerns focusing on the behavior in nondisparaging terms
  • Allow the student to talk
  • Do not challenge or become argumentative with the student
  • Ask directly if the student wants to hurt themself or others
  • Respect the students privacy without making false promises of confidentiality
  • Document all incidents and attempts to resolve the situation

Making the Referral

  • Recommend Services and provide direct referrals; assist student in contacting resources
  • Frame any decision to seek and accept help as an intellegent choice
  • Make sure the student understands what actions are neccessary
  • Be frank with the student about your limits (e.g., time, expertise)
  • Encourage and assist the student to make and keep an appointment and set a follow-up meeting with the student
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What You May See

Trust your gut! Please look at the resource guide to find the best support for a student in distress.


  • Sudden decline in quality of work and grades
  • Repeated absences
  • Disturbing content in writing or presentations (e.g., violence, death)
  • Talking about more personal issues rather than academic issues in office hours
  • Continuous classroom disruptions
  • Repeatedly asking for extensions or turning in late work
  • Doesn't respond to repeated requests


  • Marked changes in physical appearance including deterioration in grooming, hygiene or weight loss/gain
  • Sudden change of energy and personality
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Intoxication, hangovers, or smelling of alcohol or marijuana
  • Disoriented or "out of it"
  • Emails at odd hours (middle of the night)
  • Isolation
  • Lack of follow through on promises
  • Sense of hopelessness


  • Self-disclosure of personal distress that could include family problems, financial difficulties, depression, greif or thoughts of suicide
  • Excessive tearfulness, panic reactions, irritability or unusual apathy
  • Verbal abuse (e.g., taunting, badgering, intimidation)
  • Expressions of concern about the student by their peers
  • Panicked or anxiety ridden
  • Death of family member/friend, grief
  • Lack of boundaries


  • Unprovoked anger or hostility
  • Making implied or direct threats to harm self or others
  • Academic assignments dominated by themes of extreme hopelessness, rage, worthlessness, isolation, despair, acting out, suicidal ideations or violent behaviors
  • Strange or bizarre behavior indicating loss of contact with reality
  • Stalking or harassing
  • Excessive communication via email, texting or phone
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What Should I Say?

Remember to share with your student if you are a Responsible Employee and your duty to report what they may share. In addition to referring a student to resources, any sexual or gender-based harassment or assault requires mandated reporting. If they are looking for confidential support, please look at the list on the following page. For any questions regarding Mandated Reporting please contact Title IX Coordinator, Matthew Damschroder, 814-641-3157.

"Before we get too far into talking, I need to let you know that I am a responsible employee, which means that I am required by the school to report your situation to the Title IX Coordinator who works really hard to keep your information very private."

  • Reassure them of the title IX Coordinator's resources and role.
  • Give them the option to stop and talk to confidential resources, like a counselor.

Say what you see:

  • Be direct (without judgement)
  • Stick to the facts
  • Don't make assumptions
  • Describe the changes you've noticed
  • Ask if they are okay
  • Listen

Show Compassion:

  • Let them know you are there for them
  • Be patient and listen
  • Offer help where you can
  • Ask what they need
  • Remove distractions
  • Summarize what they say

Hear them out:

  • Provide a space to be heard
  • Be curious, ask questions
  • Be present and patient
  • Stay calm
  • Let them know they are not alone
  • Affirm their feelings

Conversation Tips:

I've missed you in class lately. Is everything OK? Is there anything I can do to help?

You haven't been participating in the past few classes. Is there anything you want to talk about?

It sounds like you are really overwhelmed! Is there anything I can do to help out?

Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am not an expert in this area, but I know someone who may be able to help. Would it be OK if I put you in contact with them?

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Who Can Help?

Campus Resources (CONFIDENTIAL)

  • Counseling Services: 814-641-3353
  • Health Services: 814-641-3410
  • Campus Ministry: 814-641-3317
  • SPoT: 814-641-3076

Campus Resources

  • Public Safety: 814-641-3636
  • Campus and Residential Life: 814-641-3323
  • Dean of Students: 814-641-3157
  • Dean of Health & Wellness: 814-641-3077
  • Learning Services: 814-641-3150
  • Student Accessibility Services: 814-641-5840
  • Dean of EDI: 814-641-3173

Community Resources - 24/7 Lines (CONFIDENTIAL)

  • Tri County Crisis Hotline: 800-929-9583
  • Huntingdon House (domestic violence/stalking): 814-643-1190
  • The Abuse Network (sexual assault): 888-810-2444

National Resources

  • Emergency: 911
  • National Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line: text PA to 741741
  • The Trevor Project (LGBTQ+ support): 866-488-7386 or text START to 678-678
  • Steve Fund (BIPOC support): text STEVE to 741-741

Is the student a danger to self or others, or does the student need immediate assistance for any reason?


The student's conduct is clearly and imminently reckless, disorderly, dangerous or threatening including self harm behavior or having a weapon.

Call 911

Call JCPS: 814-641-3636


The student shows signs of distress but I am unsure how serious it is. My interaction has left me feeling uneasy and/or concerned about the student.

Submit a notice of concern using this link and refer students to appropriate campus resource from list.


I am not concerned for the student's immediate safety, but they are having significant academic and/or personal issues and could use some support.

Please submit a notice of concern for the student.