Concerned about Someone's Mental Health and Safety?
There may be times that you become concerned about a CSU student or university employee. People who may be experiencing an emotional difficulty or mental health illness may show specific signs that they need help. Information about campus resources and about signs that someone may need help is below.
If you are concerned about a student OR an employee, Tell Someone.
Call (970) 491-1350 to discuss concerns about any member of the CSU community.
"At-Risk" Training Module
"At Risk" is an online, interactive training for faculty and staff to learn the common indicators of psychological distress and how best to approach an at-risk student.
- Referral will be made to campus resources that can develop strategies and use resources to discreetly help students and employees who may be in distress.
- Referrals may also be made using the online Health and Safety Referral form.
If you believe a member of the campus community is in imminent danger to themselves or others, immediately contact CSU police by calling 911 or the department’s non-emergency number at 970-491-6425.
Signs that a student OR employee may need help
- Written or verbal references to violence, suicide or death, or drawings of that nature
- Thoughts, plans, means and intent related to suicide or homicide
- Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, pills or other means
- Making overt references to suicide or homicide
- Unusual or changed pattern or interaction with others
- Change in academic or job performance
- Change in personal hygiene or dress
- Excessive absences or tardiness to class or work
- Repeated requests for special consideration, especially when this represents a change from previous behavior
- Engaging in risky behavior or behavior that causes injury to themselves such as cutting
- Strange or bizarre behavior indicating loss of contact with reality
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness, helplessness or severe psychological pain
- Noticeable change in behavior
- Isolation from family or friends
- Swollen or red eyes
- Dramatic weight loss or gain
- Depressed mood or low energy
- Hyperactive or rapid speech or mood
- Excessive anxiety
- Disruptive or threatening behavior
- Problems with peers or family members
- Exaggerated emotional response that is obviously inappropriate to the situation
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
It is not uncommon for people who will develop mental illnesses in their lifetime to do so when they are young adults -- high school or college-aged. College is also the first time when many of our students are away from home, separated from their families and friends -- the people who may notice changes in the student’s personalities before new friends would.
However, no one is immune to mental health concerns simply because of his or her age: Employees also are at risk of mental illness or extreme physiological stress.
Five Dos and Don’ts about helping someone in distress
What to do:
- Tell the person you are worried about that you do not want him or her to die. Saying something as simple as: “Please don’t hurt yourself,” “I don’t want you to kill yourself; I would miss you terribly,” “My life would be less full without you,” can help the distressed person think about their reasons for living. If you believe that a person is at immediate risk of hurting themselves or others, call 911 immediately.
- Point them to resources. Become familiar with resources available to the campus community and ask the person you are concerned about to seek help. A list of resources is available at www.safety.colostate.edu. If you feel you cannot ask this person to seek help, take steps yourself to alert the proper people. This is the most important step – if you do nothing else, make sure this person either seeks help or that you have alerted someone who can help him or her.
- Tell Someone. Follow up with university resources yourself. Make sure you close the loop with university resources if you are concerned about someone.
- Say, “I am here.” Listen to the person without judging. Consider a kind gesture such as sending a card or written message that lets that person know you are thinking of them. Many depressed people feel that no one cares for them; a small, kind gesture can make a significant difference.
- Act on your instincts. If you’re even slightly worried about someone being an immediate danger to themselves or others, take action.
What not to do:
- Don’t say, “I know how you feel.” Even if you’ve been severely depressed or even suicidal, everyone’s situation is different. It’s very likely that you do not know how this person feels.
- Don’t say, “Get over it.” Depression or suicidal thoughts are not simple to get over. Depression is a complex medical and emotional condition. A person cannot “get over” clinical depression on their own.
- Don’t say, “There was a tornado in Arkansas. Be thankful for what you have and realize other people have it worse than you do.” This may make the depressed person feel like his or her pain and sadness is further diminished in importance.
- Do not ignore warning signs. People who are depressed or suicidal often ask for help either verbally or with other warning signs. Take these signs seriously; they are a cry for help. Take action.
- Do not keep it a secret. Even if the depressed or suicidal person asks you not to tell others after confiding in you, don’t keep it a secret. It is better to get them help than to keep the secret and they hurt themselves or someone else.