Red Folder Provides Resource For Supporting Student Mental Health

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The mental and emotional health of college students has been a rising concern nationally for nearly a decade. Timed with the added challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Colgate has added a new tool to its many resources for supporting students: the Red Folder.

The Red Folder, offered by Colgate’s dean of the college division, provides guidance for faculty and staff members across campus on how to respond to, support, and refer students in distress — through a framework of compassion. 

While college students may feel alone, isolated, and even hopeless when faced with academic and life challenges, faculty and staff members are in a unique position to assist them with connecting to appropriate resources. 

Because they interact with students on a daily basis, they are able to observe student behavior over a period of time. Students exhibiting concerning behaviors in their presence are likely to have difficulties coping with life stressors. 

The booklet provides guidance on recognizing the symptoms of distress, whether in academic performance or behavior in the classroom or through physical signs or interpersonal relations. It offers actionable steps to take when supporting a student in distress, including a guide for appropriate intervention, tips for engaging in caring conversations, and a list of campus resources they can connect students to for help.

The guide also outlines important guidance on information sharing to ensure that students’ privacy is protected in line with ethics and federal laws such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as well as Campus Security Authority and Mandated Reporter regulations.

In creating the Red Folder, Colgate’s Mental Health Advisory Board adopted and modified best practices from other institutions and based the booklet on the initiative of the same name launched by the University of California in 2012.