Red Folder

Recognize, Respond, Refer

Message to Faculty and Staff

When faced with academic and life challenges, students may feel alone, isolated, and even hopeless. These feelings can easily disrupt academic performance and may lead to diminished coping abilities and other serious consequences.

As a faculty or staff member you may have frequent and prolonged contact and be the first person to notice a student in distress. As fellow members of the CU Denver community, it is important that we respond with compassion.

Keep in mind students exhibiting concerning behaviors may be experiencing difficulties in other areas of their lives. Students sometimes feel they can’t share their struggles with family and friends but may be comfortable doing so with faculty or staff voluntarily, or you might notice a concern first. By expressing concern, you may help save a student’s academic career or even their life. Faculty and staff are in a unique position to demonstrate care and compassion for students in distress.

Indicators that faculty and staff may need to intervene include (but are not limited to): Feeling uncomfortable about a student’s comments or behavior, concern about a student’s safety or their ability to function, and/or feeling alarmed or frightened.


Most Common Referral Identifiers

  • Behavioral or emotional changes

  • Withdrawal or isolation

  • Change in hygiene or appearance

  • Decline in class attendance
  • Excessive or inappropriate anger

  • Bizarre thoughts or behavior

  • Expressing suicidal statements

  • Disclosing housing or financial difficulties

We can further delineate identifiers into common categories:

  • Sudden decline in quality of work and grades

  • Repeated absences

  • Disorganized work

  • Multiple requests for extensions

  • Overly demanding of faculty or staff’s time and attention

  • Bizarre content in writings or presentations

  • You find yourself providing more personal than academic support


You’ve identified a student in distress and you’re concerned. Next, it’s important to appropriately respond. Whether it’s to a student you interact with frequently and know quite well, or a student you don’t know well at all, it’s still important to respond with care and compassion.

These are meant to be general guidelines rather than a checklist to follow for every situation. Some of these can’t be directly carried over in a virtual setting; however, the spirit of these guidelines can be maintained over the phone, through email, or a Zoom call.


Safety First

The welfare of the campus community is our top priority. When a student displays threatening or potentially violent behavior, don't wait to call for help.


Take Your Time

If this is NOT an imminently dangerous situation, take time to think through the most helpful next step.


Use Active Listening

Listen sensitively, and make eye contact (as appropriate) with the student, giving them your full attention. Restate what the student says to make sure that you better understand what is causing the distress and/or what exactly they are asking for help with.


Stay Calm

Take a few deep breaths or a pause to calm yourself. Make sure you’re in a mental state to use a calm voice when talking and asking questions.


Seek Consultation

Consult the resources available to you and contact the Office of Case Management/CARE Team at 303-315-7306 or


Validate & Act

Thank the student for sharing and your desire to support them by connecting them with the right resources. State your intentions to handle this information delicately, sharing it with those in the best position to offer help, and make a plan to follow-up.

What About Privacy?

Appropriate consideration for student privacy should be given before information is shared with people other than those who are directly involved, or who you are reporting the information to (ie.CARE Team, Police). Questions about when such disclosure is appropriate can be answered by the campus Legal Counsel.


Does the Student Need Immediate Assistance?

*The Office of Case Management and CARE Team operate Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm. In the event of a true emergency, contact police and then follow-up with a CARE report.

Where does a report go?

*Trust your instincts. If an interaction leaves you feeling worried, alarmed, or threatened, fill out a report form.

The Campus Assessment, Response & Evaluation (CARE) Team was created to address the health and safety needs of students and the campus community.


We assess whether individuals pose a risk to themselves or others and intervene when necessary. More generally, we identify and provide assistance to those in need.


The CARE Team is represented by several offices on campus including: Housing & Dining, Student Conduct & Community Standards, Office of Case Management, Legal Counsel, Office of Equity, Auraria Campus Police Department, and the Student and Community Counseling Center.

When in doubt, fill it out.

Office of Case Management

Dean of Students Office

CU Denver

Tivoli Student Union

900 Auraria Parkway


Denver, CO 80204


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