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Supporting Students in Distress
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.
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.
Below are indicators that will help you identify a student of concern. Pay attention
to persistent behaviors, sudden changes, and the duration of the signs.
Stay Safe: Call police s or 911 if there is an imminent danger to the student, you, or anyone else.
Stay Calm: Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself. Use a calm voice when talking and asking questions.
Use Active Listening: Make eye contact and give your full attention. Restate what the student says to make sure you understand what is causing the distress and/or what they are asking for help with.
Ask Direct Questions: Don’t be afraid to directly ask the student if they are having thoughts of harming themselves or others (by asking, you are not instilling the thought).
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.
Is Immediate Assistance Needed?
Behavior that is severely disruptive, directly impacts others, and is actively dangerous
including life-threatening, self-injurious behaviors.
1. Call 911 for immediate response or call OSU Police Non-Emergency Line for assistance 405-744-6523.
2. Submit a Care Report
Behavior is at an elevated state and is increasingly disruptive or the behavior is related to impaired ability to manage oneself, emotions, and actions.
Submit a Care Report or call Student Support & Conduct for guidance.
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 multiple stressors at once, a lack of coping skills, or have limited or no support network.
Check in with student and refer them to appropriate campus resources.
If you feel the student needs more support, submit a Care Report for case management services through Student Support & Conduct.
Submitting a Care Report allows for university administrators to address any concerns and support student’s 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.
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.