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Oklahoma State University

Supporting Students in Distress

Formal Garden May  2020

Are you concerned about the well-being or safety of a student?
Have you observed student behaviors that caused concern?

If you see something, say something. The vigilance of all community members is critical in keeping the campus safe. We are unable to mitigate a situation until we are aware of it. The university expects all members of our community to act quickly and responsibly if they hear or see something that is out of the ordinary. It is important to report any concerns, even if they seem minor. Do not assume someone else will call. 

Recognizing Concerns

Most students will experience sadness, overwhelming stress, and/or crisis during their college years.  These experiences will range in severity but can affect a student’s wellbeing and success at Oklahoma State. You may interact with students who need assistance. Being aware of signs of distress and resources on campus can help in handling these situations. You play an important role at Oklahoma State University in providing resources to support student success.

Concerning Behaviors Examples What You Should Do


Behavior that is severely disruptive,
directly impacts others, and is actively
dangerous including life-threatening,
self-injurious behaviors.

  • rapidly losing the ability to maintain one’s mental health state
  • suicide attempts, ideations of an expressed lethal plan
  • extreme self-injury
  • detached view of reality
  • inability care for themselves
  • making threats that are concrete, consistent, and plausible
  • brandishing a weapon
  • threats of physical danger
  • moving towards a plan of targeted violence
  • sense of hopelessness
  • fixation on a target
  • leakage of a credible attack plan

Call 911

Non-emergency OSU Police assistance 405-744-6523

AND Submit a Care Report.


Behavior is at an elevated state
and is increasingly disruptive.

  • difficulty maintaining one’s mental health
  • screaming or aggressive communications
  • rapid/odd speech
  • erratic behavior
  • extreme isolation
  • a stark decrease in self-care
  • responding to voices
  • troubling thoughts with paranoid/delusional themes
  • suicidal thoughts that are not imminent or non-life-threatening self-injury
  • fixation on a singular target
  • attempts to dehumanize or intimidate a target
  • seeking support to empower threatening thoughts
  • threats may be vague or direct

Submit a Care Report.

The report will be reviewed and sent to the appropriate office and staff to address the concerns.


Behavior is related to impaired ability
to manage oneself, emotions, and actions.

  • impaired ability to manage emotions and actions
  • expressions of hopelessness
  • difficulty coping with stressors that disrupt mood, social, or academic areas
  • mild substance abuse/misuse
  • disordered eating
  • driven by hardened thoughts concerning past wrongs/perceived wrongs
  • storming off when frustrated
  • disengagement
  • trolling on social media, or arguing with others to embarrass, shame, or shut down
  • physical violence, if present, is limited, impulsive, and non-lethal

Submit a Care Report.

The report will be reviewed and sent to the appropriate office and staff to address the concerns.


The vast majority of students will
experience stress in college.  However,
some students may experience additional
needs when these stressors are
accompanied by multiples stressors
at once, a lack of coping skills, or have limited or no support network. 

  • struggling and not doing well
  • behavior is appropriate given the circumstance and context
  • experiencing situational stressors but demonstrate coping skills
  • no threat made or present
  • basic Needs: food, housing, transportation
  • passionate and hardened thoughts, typically around religion, politics, academic status, money/power, social justice, or relationships
  • rejection of alternative perspectives, critical thinking, empathy, or perspective-taking

Check-in with the student. Provide campus resources.


If you feel the student needs more support,
submit a Care Report for case management services through Student Support and Conduct.

Reporting Concerns

Submitting a Care Report allows for university administrators to address any concerns and support students success.  Online reports should only include objective, observable, and factual information. We ask that you avoid labels, stereotypes, and reporting based on hearsay or mere assumptions. Call 405-744-5470 if you have questions.Reports will be reviewed and assigned to the Care Team, Behavioral Consultation Team, or case management. A representative will reach out to the person of concern as appropriate. To respect the student’s privacy rights, the reporter will typically not be informed of the interactions with the person of concern. 

The Behavioral Consultation Team (BCT) is a specially trained group of professional staff members from several university departments with mental health, student development, law enforcement, academic, administrative and legal expertise. The team investigates and evaluates threats and other concerning behavior, implements strategies for managing individuals that may pose a threat of harm. The team’s goal is to work with all parties involved to effect a safe campus environment. 

OSU has a Care team committed to collaboratively supporting students. The focus of the Care Team is to take a proactive approach when identifying students who are under distress and provide them with resources, interventions (early), and referral agencies on campus or in the community. The role of this team is to help students who may be in distress or experiencing challenging or difficult life circumstances. 


Students can be referred for case management by faculty, staff, family, or other students when there is a concern regarding a student's welfare. Students can also self-refer in order to access support and assistance. Through individualized consultation, case management provides assessment, intervention, and coordination of services to support students navigating challenging or unexpected issues that impact their well-being and academic success.

Quick Guide for Helping Students

RECOGNIZE: Identify the behavior that is concerning including behavior that ranges from distressing, a disturbance, or dangerous.

RELATE: Talk with the individual in private, if possible, and use OARS to help an individual who may be struggling.

  • Open-Ended Questions - Ask questions that require a full answer
  • Affirmations - Acknowledge the individual’s distress without judgment
  • Reflective Listening - Understand what an individual says and feels and then relaying this back to them
  • Summarize -Validate the individual for seeking help. Determine if you can provide assistance at that time and encourage them to connect with support resources on campus.

REFER Submit a Care Report.

Campus Resources for Support

University Counseling Services (UCS) provides group, grief, substance abuse, and crisis counseling.  The Student Counseling Center also offers a walk-in clinic and psychiatric referrals. 

Call SAM: 855-225-2SAM (2726) (Student Assistance by Mercy) has licensed counselors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to crises, and provide referrals and consultations. 

TAO: Free online library of interactive programs to learn life skills and to help you bounce back from disappointments and stumbling blocks in life.

 Student Support and Conduct houses staff trained in supporting students who may be experiencing mental health struggles, sexual violence, college stressors, and crisis.  Student Support & Conduct enforces the Student Code of Conduct for when student behavior falls outside of the University’s expectations. Student Support & Conduct receives the Care reports and leads the Behavioral Consultation and Care Teams. 

University Health Services is an acute care facility that provides a wide variety of services including outpatient medical care, nutritional counseling, a full retail pharmacy, women's clinic, as well as mental health and psychiatry services made possible by partnerships with OSU's School of Community Health Sciences, Counseling and Counseling Psychology and Grand Lake Mental Health.  

Student Accessibility Services offers academic support services to students with disabilities.  

Employee Assistance Program is available to OSU employees provides confidential support, resources, and information for personal and work-life issues.