Initiative aims to aid distressed students

Sonoma State University administration has taken an initiative to help aid students and improve the safety of the campus as a whole. It’s is called the Red Folder Initiative. The initiative is an educational reference for faculty and other staff members to turn to for guidance when encountering a distressed student. The Red Folder Initiative was also put into action with University of California campuses roughly two years ago. 

“The Red Folder provides basic guidelines for people who are not mental health professionals to respond to various situations and to determine the appropriate course of action,” said Matthew Lopez-Phillips, vice president for student affairs and chief student affairs officer. 

The Red Folder was given to the entire faculty at Sonoma State, and will soon be accessible to students on campus as well.  The Red Folder will be offered and found on the desktops of computers on campus. The initiative is targeted for non-mental health professionals to serve as a reference for faculty members.

“I think it will be helpful to faculty and staff who are often the first ones to notice that a student is struggling and may be unsure of how to respond and/or where to refer the student on-campus to get further support,” said Laura Williams, director of Clinical Services.

The folder offers signs of a distressed student in which faculty members can refer to assist struggling students. The initiative helps faculty and students recognize those showing signs of distress. Therefore, it serves as a reference that offers tips and guidelines on how to talk to, and even handle a student who is in distress. 

Lopez-Phillips believes that fellow students, faculty and staff are oftentimes the first people to witness early signs of distress in students during class, or in residence halls. 

“Students may initially seek assistance from these people, as they are perceived as being available and willing to talk.  If we want SSU to develop into a caring campus community, each member must be concerned for the wellbeing of others,” said Lopez-Phillips, “The Red Folder is a good way to respond to a potential student in crisis as it describes indicators to look for, ways to be supportive, and allows concerned parties to make informed suggestions and referrals to the appropriate campus resources.”

The Red Folder offers contact information to its users, as it connects one with on-campus resources that are directed to aid a distressed individual.  

With recent events in the U.S. surrounding the issue shootings, stabbings and other forms of extreme mental breakdowns, this initiative is intended to provide a positive influence on college campuses.  Providing easy access to a reference of guidelines for people who are not trained professionals, it will help to catch signs of a distressed student more quickly, and allow for the student to receive the attention he or she needs.  

For those untrained in psychological treatment such as college faculty and administration, helping someone showing signs of distress can be confusing and difficult.  

For more information regarding the Red Folder Initiative, contact CAPS or University Affairs.