Jun 05, 2020

New tool helps students assess mental health

The California State University system has a new tool which analyzes the mental well-being of students and provides solutions to encourage a positive outcome.

The new CSU resource, the Red Folder, encourages CSU faculty and staff to assist students who are uneasy. It informs them about symptoms to look for so that they can take the proper cautionary steps to ensure safety of the student and others around them.

The Red Folder also functions as a guide to resources on campus that students can use to resolve mental issues.

Elizabeth Chapin, public affairs web communications specialist for the CSU system, said the Red Folder became available last year, but only fully launched with a mobile app since the start of this month.

Chapin said the Red Folder will provide more accessibility for both students and faculty.

“Whether that’s campus counseling, or an outside referral for a doctor,” Chapin said. “Also, for faculty and staff to have access to emergency services as well. It gives them more information about how to recognize symptoms of distress. So ultimately it helps students succeed.”

Chapin said it may take some time to find out if the CSU system is finding this resource to be useful or effective.

“It has been something that has been very well received in the UC system and I think later on after a year or so that this has been launched, we’ll have more feedback,” Chapin said.

Dr. Frank Lamas, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, said he thinks having the Red Folder being available for faculty and students will have a positive effect.

“I think it’s a great idea anytime we get information in the hands of people and make them better and more aware of where they can get help in case there is a difficult situation that arises on campus,” Lamas said.

Lamas said like the Red Folder, Fresno State’s Behavior Intervention Team also tries to help improve mental health and wellness for students on campus by providing information and resources. Behavior Intervention Team (B.I.T.) is a group made up of faculty on campus that works to stay aware of troubling behavior exhibited by students, faculty or staff and helps create solutions to an individual’s problem.

The team is comprised of three groups that focus on certain issues and try to intervene in situations such as mental distress, sexual assault or relationship violence and dangerous threats to the campus.

“My experiences with teams like that in the past, has been almost 90 percent of the people we can help and can stay in school, they recover from whatever situation they’ve had and get the help,” Lamas said.

He said the threat assessment and risk prediction team had helped prevent the recent incident of the social media threat on campus.

“Any efforts that we as a campus can help people who are a safety net for people who are in distress, or people who have been violated, or to help the entire campus from experiencing a Virginia Tech kind of incident, is a really important thing for us,” Lamas said.

Lamas said why he thinks the Red Folder is an important resource for everyone to have.

“Information helps people when they’re in a difficult situation to know how best to advise people. I think having the Red Folder, having teams, having all these safety measures and other things we have they’re all part of a big picture to ensuring people’s health, welfare, and safety,” Lamas said.

Kizzy Lopez, Behavior Intervention Team Coordinator and Student Affairs Case Manager, said she has observed how the Red Folder has helped faculty on campus.

“I know faculty have used it and they seem to really like it,” Lopez said. “I was able to get more information from that faculty in terms of the issues that the student was struggling with and then I’m able to then reach out to the student and see how I can be of support and assistance in terms of connecting them with the appropriate resources either on campus or in the community.”

Lopez encourages students to use resources in addition to the Red Folder, and the Behavior Intervention Team, but also the counseling services at the Student Health Center.

“I think they play an integral role in supporting students mental health,” Lopez said.

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