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Oklahoma City - An OSU Degree in OKC.

Supporting Students in Distress

Student with masks on campus

"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."

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

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.

Indicators Examples
Academic Sudden decline in quality of course work and/or grades Lack of organization skills Multiple requests for extensions on assignments Overly demanding of faculty/staff’s time and attention Unusual content in writings or presentations Your conversations tend to be more about personal topics rather than academic.
Physical Significant changes in physical appearance (grooming/hygiene, weight loss/gain) Excessive loss of sleep or fatigue Consistent intoxication, hangovers, or the scent of alcohol Seems to be disoriented or “out of it” often Disconnected or slurred speech Strange behavior that is out of context Delusions or paranoia.
Psychological Concern from peers Extreme emotional response to events Excessive crying or panicked reactions Unusual irritability Heightened apathy towards things they normally cherish or look forward to Disclosure of personal issues (family or financial issues, grief, suicidal ideation).
Safety Risk Physical violence towards others (shoving, grabbing, assault, use of weapons) Implying or making direct threat to harm self or others Themes of hopelessness, rage, worthlessness, despair, suicidal ideation, etc. found within academic assignments Stalking or harassing others Communicating threats of others or self.


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?

Yes Not Sure No
Behavior that is severely disruptive, directly impacts others, and is actively dangerous including life-threatening, self-injurious behaviors. Behavior is at an elevated state and is increasingly disruptive or the behavior is related to impaired ability to manage oneself, emotions, and actions. 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.
1. Call 911 for immediate response or call OSU-OKC security at 405-945-9111. 1. Submit a Care Report or call the Health and Wellness Counselor for guidance. 1. Check in with student and refer them to appropriate campus resources.
2. Submit a Care Report. 2. The report will be reviewed and sent to the appropriate office and staff to address the concerns. 2. 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 405-945-3346 if you have questions. Reports will be reviewed and assigned to the Care Team or Campus Behavioral Assessment Team. 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.

CBAT Health and Wellness
The Campus Behavioral Assessment Team (CBAT) is a specially trained group of professional staff members from several university departments with mental health, student engagement, safety and security, academic and administrative. 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.  Health and Wellness is committed to collaboratively supporting students. The focus 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.

Resources for Support

Health and Wellness Services provides assistance with

  • Working through anxiety, depression, stress, difficulty with family/friends, self-esteem, loss, and grief.
  • Referral to resources such as food, housing, mental health, and substance abuse.
  • Mental health support and education.
  • Peer support and training.  

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.

Disability Services and Diversity offers academic support services to students with disabilities.  

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