Knowing how to effectively support a distressed student can be nuanced and difficult.

Working in academia can present educators with unexpected challenges when it comes to monitoring student wellbeing. Throughout the span of a semester, students can experience a range of mental health crises, from trauma to major depression, and shouldering these issues alone can result in concerning behavior.

Recognizing what constitutes as concerning behavior is the first step to supporting a distressed student. Signs of distress can include various academic, physical, psychological, and behavioral signals. For example, disruptive behavior, difficulty controlling emotions, and loss of motivation can all be considered patterns of concerning behavior. It’s equally important to be vigilant of patterns, duration, and severity of distress signals.

Once concerning behavior is recognized, it’s important to connect individuals with proper resources; however, knowing how to effectively support a distressed student can be nuanced and difficult. To aid faculty members in addressing these issues, MSU has developed resources to identify, support, and triage students experiencing a crisis.

Green Folder

TheGreen Folder is a comprehensive, easy-to-follow guide designed to assist faculty and staff in recognizing and supporting distressed students and employees. The guide goes through the protocol for a behavioral risk assessment and provides a triaged list of options for various levels of risk. The guide also provides a list of non-emergency and consultative contacts as well as a list of physical, psychological, behavioral, and academic indicators of distress.


Kognito is a virtual training platform designed to provide student-facing employees with a socioemotional toolkit for recognizing and addressing students experiencing distress. The program consists of role playing scenarios where users work their way through simulated conversations with students. In a national study of effectiveness, this simulation has been shown to increase the number of student referrals to counseling. Simulations can be completed in multiple sittings and your progress will be saved. To complete the simulation, follow the instructions below:


·  Go to

·  Create a New Account

·  Use Enrollment Key: msuemployee

·  Follow the on-screen instructions

·  Choose your simulation and click “LAUNCH”


Who to Contact

Among other resources, faculty and staff can find links to campus resources for a multitude of possible circumstances on MSU’s Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) website. The list includes links to the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX guide for mandatory reporting, contacts for MSU Police, The Behavioral Threat Assessment TeamCAPS, and The Office of Institutional Equity, among others. To view the full list of contacts, click here. To learn more about the services CAPS provides, click here.