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Stanford Red Folder

The Stanford Red Folder is a resource designed to help faculty & staff navigate conversations with students about well-being. The Red Folder also includes an extensive list of campus resources and information on how to appropriately connect students to them.

Access Red Folder Spring 2020

Are you seeking resources to help a student in distress and unsure where to turn? Residence deans and Graduate Life Office  deans are available 24/7 to consult with Stanford faculty and staff who are concerned about a student's well-being. The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs is available during regular business hours to consult with Stanford community members who are concerned about the well-being of postdoc trainees.

To request copies of the red folder or to offer feedback, please email


Indicators of Distress


  • Repeated absences and/or a decline in quality of work or classroom performance
  • Essays or creative work that include disturbing content and/or themes of despair, hopelessness, suicide, violence, death, or aggression
  • Inappropriate classroom behavior, multiple requests for extensions or grades of Incomplete


  • Marked changes in physical appearance, including changes in hygiene
  • Repeatedly appearing sick, excessively fatigued
  • Obvious change in mental state and/or apparent intoxication
  • Other behavior that isn't appropriate for the context/setting


  • Direct comments about distress, family problems, etc.
  • Signs/expressions of hopelessness, worthlessness, or shame
  • Drastic change in interactions with others
  • Expressions of concern by peers
  • Implied or direct threats of harm to self/others
  • Self-injurious, destructive, or reckless behavior

1. Say What You See

Be direct. Let the student know that you've noticed a change and you want to talk. Say what you've noticed, and avoid making any judgement or assumptions. Start this conversation in a setting where the student will feel safe to be open and honest with you. Follow-up with a Residence Dean (for undergrads), Graduate Life Office Dean (for graduate and professional students), or the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (for postdoc trainees) if you still have concerns.

2. Show You Care

Be warm. We all need to know others care about us. Showing you care about a student's well-being can have a positive impact on their mental well-being, and increase the likelihood they seek help if needed.

Build trust. Ask what they need. The kind of support a student needs will change based on the context, and the only way to know what they need from you is to ask. Everything you do can signal to students that you care about them and that you're a safe person to reach out to.

3. Hear Them Out

Be there to listen. Your priority is to provide a space for the student to speak and be heard. They need you to be warm, compassionate and fully present. Listen patiently as you try to understand where they're coming from and take time to affirm their feelings. This is about them, not you.

Be curious. As an active listener, ask follow-up and open-ended questions that might help you understand the student, and ensure they feel heard. Most importantly, listen and let them speak.

Share carefully. Most of the time it's not helpful to share your experiences. Your role is to listen and learn so you can connect the student to resources. Sometimes, however, it can be helpful for a student to hear about your experiences with your own well-being or interactions you've had with mental well-being resources.

4. Connect to Help

Determine need. Does the student need resources for social connection, specialized professional help, or is this an emergency?

Reaffirm your connection. Sometimes communicating to a student that they may benefit from professional help can feel like they are being passed off as a problem or burden. Prevent this by explicitly affirming your connection with them. Again, show you care.

Help them connect to resources. Students in distress may need help connecting with a resource. Showing them how to access the resource increases the likelihood that they actually do. 

Follow-up. If possible, reconnect with the student to make sure that they successfully connected with the resources that you suggested.

Social Connection Resources

I'm not concerned for the student's safety, but they're having a hard time and could use some support.

Asian American Activities Center {A3C) builds a community of Asian and Asian American students, faculty, staff and alumni that fosters greater understanding and awareness of the Asian experience in America. I 

Black Community Services Center {BCSC) focuses on supporting the total advancement and excellence of Black students and Black student groups within the Stanford community. I 

El Centro Chicano y Latino {El Centro) works to support Chicano and Latino students academically, personally, socially and culturally. I 

Hillel at Stanford (Hillel) empowers Jewish students at Stanford to explore and deepen their Jewish identities, and to envision their futures with choices inspired by Jewish values and commitments. I 

The Inclusion and Diversity Education Office provides campus leadership for students, faculty and staff to consciously and actively affirm intersectional identities and foster intergroup relationships. Resources include experiential workshops, conflict navigation, staff training, and inclusion consulting. I new name and website coming soon 

Markaz Resource Center (The Markaz) supports a vibrant community of students who identify with or are interested in Muslim experiences both here and around the world. I

Native American Cultural Center (NACC) works to improve the quality of life for American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Indigenous Pacific Islanders. Our community reaches out to new students and their families to help them adjust to life at Stanford, and to help them realize goals and prepare for the future. I

Queer Student Resources (QSR) is a community of students, university staff, and faculty working to make Stanford a place where people of all genders and sexualities can flourish. I 

Stanford FLI Office connects first-generation and/or low-income (FLI) students to resources, builds community and fosters a sense of belonging through mentorship and advocacy. I

Women's Community Center (WCC) exists to facilitate growth and engagement for Stanford students around issues of gender, equity, identity, and justice. I

Specialized Resources

The student is showing signs of distress. This is not an emergency, but I'm definitely concerned about them and want to get them more help soon.

CR (Confidential Resource) is used below to identify resources that offer confidential support. 


Dean of Students Contact at (650) 723-2733 to access any of the following resources for non-urgent matters: 

  • Graduate Life Office (GLO)
  • Residential Education (ResEd)
  • Office of Community Standards (OCS)
  • Residence Deans (RDs)

Department of Public Safety (DPS) endeavours to be a consultative resource for all members of the community and can be reached 24/7 at (650) 329-2413. 

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers individual consults, skills workshops, process groups, seminars, psychiatry services, community referral resources, and crisis intervention. Reach CAPS at (650) 723-3785. CR 

Confidential Support Team (CST) offers support to Stanford students impacted by sexual assault and relationship violence. Contact CST at (650) 736-6933 or 24/7 (for urgent concerns) at (650) 725-9955. CR 

Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE) aims to reduce high-risk alcohol and other drug use and related harms by enriching the social experience and providing collaborative, educational strategies and programs. Contact at (650) 725-5947. 

Well-Being at Stanford advances student well-being through individual coaching, academic courses, consultations, trainings and workshops, and volunteer, internship and funding opportunities. Contact at

Office of the Ombuds is available to all faculty, staff, postdocs, and students where all are welcome to discuss any concern that is interfering with their academic or work life. Contact Ombuds at (650) 497-1542 or CR

Office for Religious Life (ORL) offers pastoral care and spiritual guidance and can be reached at (650) 723-1762. CR 

The Bridge Peer Counseling Center (The Bridge) offers anonymous peer counseling by trained students and can be reached at (650) 723-3392. 

Office of Sexual Assault & Relationship Abuse Education & Response (SARA) promotes caring, empowered, and consensual relationships at Stanford. Contact SARA at (650) 725-1056 or

Office of Accessible Education (OAE) provides a wide array of support services, accommodations, and programs to remove barriers to full participation in the life of the University. Contact OAE at (650) 723-1066 or

Schwab Learning Center helps students with learner variability understand how they learn and how to leverage their strengths. Contact at

Financial Aid Office (FAO) Contact at (650) 723-3058 or

Academic Advising Resources: 

  • For undergraduate students: VPUE Academic Advising Contact at (650) 723-2426 or
  • For graduate and professional students: VPGE Grad Advising Contact at (650) 736-0775 or

Postdoc Resources:

  • Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) is the support center for all aspects of personal & professional development and life at Stanford for postdoc trainees. Contact at (650) 725-5075.
  • Faculty Staff Help Center provides assistance for faculty, staff & postdocs. Contact at (650) 723-4577 or CR
  • Guidance Resources Program for Postdocs offers 24/7 support, information, and resources for all of life's challenges. Contact at (855) 666-0519 or CR

Urgent Resources - 24/7

The student's behavior is dangerous or threatening to themselves and others.

FOR ALL EMERGENCY SITUATIONS: Call 911 (9-911 from a university phone). 

Urgent Consultation Resources: 

RD on-call Available to help undergraduates 24/7 at (650) 504-8022. 

GLO Dean on-call Available to help graduate and professional students 24/7 at (650) 723-7288. Provide pager ID number #25085 to the operator. 

CAPS on-call Available for all students 24/7 at (650) 723-3785. CR

Confidential Support Team (CST) Available for all students impacted by sexual assault and relationship violence 24/7 at (650) 725-9955. CR 

Vaden Medical Services Available for all students 24/7 at (650) 498-2336. CR 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers 24/7 free and confidential support for people in distress at (800) 273-8255. CR 

Privacy and information sharing. 

Professionals affiliated with Confidential Resources (CR) will gladly receive information from you about a student's well-being, but, due to FERPA, HIPAA, or professional ethics, some resources, licensed healthcare providers in particular, are often unable to provide reciprocal information to you regarding the student. This can be frustrating but is an essential ethical and legal safeguard for student privacy and confidentiality. 

Campus Security Authority and Mandated Reporter regulations may also apply to many or all of the resources listed in this guide. 

How to Respond to a Student in Distress

When in doubt about a student's well-being, consider these options:
- RD on-call (undergraduates) (650) 504-8022
- GLO Dean on-call  (graduate and professional students) 650) 723-7288, pager ID 25085
- Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (postdoc trainees) (650) 725-5075


This is not a script, but rather examples of what you might say in a conversation with a student. It is important that you use language that feels natural to you and fits the context of your interaction with the student. 

1. Say What You See

  • "Hi ___ , I just wanted to check in. I've noticed __ _ and wanted to see if you want to talk about it." 
  • "I've noticed ___ and I want you to know that I am here to support you." 

2. Show You Care

  • "I care about your well-being, so I just wanted to check in to see how you're doing. I want to know how I can be most helpful." 
  • "Thanks for taking some time to talk with me. I wanted to have this conversation because I care about how you're doing and want you to know that I'm here to support you in the ways you need."

3. Hear Them Out

Listen. If questions are appropriate: 
  • "Wow, I'd like to hear more about that." 
  • "That sounds hard, how does that affect your life at Stanford?" 

4. Connect to Help

  • "Thank you for being vulnerable with me. I want to continue this conversation, and I also want to make sure that you're getting the help you need. I really think you may find ____ to be a very helpful and comforting resource." 
  • "Reaching out to ___ for the first time can be a little confusing. Would you like help connecting to ___ ?" 
  • "I really think ___ can address some of your needs, but sometimes it takes several tries to find a place that is the best fit. For any reason if it doesn/t feel like a match, then ask the resource what other resources may be a better fit for your needs." 

Know Your Role

Safety first. Do not hesitate to call Public Safety (911) for help. Your safety, and that of our students and community, is our top priority. 

Consult. Call the RD, GLO Dean on-call, or CAPS for further consultation whenever you need. Sharing your concerns about students with these resources helps them keep account of our students' well-being. 

Set clear boundaries. Set boundaries around anything that helps to preserve your own mental well-being. You can't give students the support they need if you are suffering. You're not their therapist. 

Warmth. Your role is to be a warm, supportive presence for this student who is struggling. You're not there to fix anything or give unsolicited advice. 

Be Proactive. Have conversations about well-being with students early and often. This normalizes the process of accessing help and becoming well. 

Self-Care. Supporting students' well-being can take a toll on our own. If this happens, please do what you need to recover and recharge. When students see you practicing self-care it helps them realize that their community supports and prioritizes self-care. Remember that the Faculty Staff Help Center is available to you as a confidential resource. 

Setting expectations about resources. Help the student be realistic about what to expect from the resource and on what timeline. No resource can meet all needs and it may take patience to access a resource and/or to experience the benefits. 

Resource wasn't helpful for the student. Ask follow-up questions to understand what about the resource didn't fit their needs, and to determine which resource would be a better fit. 

Severity of situation unclear. It's possible the severtty of the situation won't be obvious, and you won't know which resource is the best fit. In that case always consult with an RD, GLO Dean, CAPS, or the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.