Red Folder Project

A red file folder, computer keyboard, and a blue pen on a desktop

Western's Red Folder Project is a campus-wide initiative to help faculty and staff recognize, respond effectively to, and refer students experiencing a mental health crisis.

What Is a Mental Health Crisis?

A mental health crisis is any situation in which a person’s behavior puts them at risk of hurting themselves or others and/or prevents them from being able to care for themselves or function effectively in the community.

Important Note

While physical copies of the folders are not currently available, please bookmark this page, which contains all the information from the Red Folders, to use as a quick-reference guide when supporting students who are experiencing a mental health crisis. 

Crisis Resources

Counseling and Wellness Center

Select option 1 after hours

Student Referral

Refer a student to urgent, same-day support through the Counseling and Wellness Center by calling 360-650-3164 or scheduling online. For after-hours support, call 360-650-3164 and select option 1.

Faculty/Staff Consultation

If you need consultation for a potential student mental health crisis, you can call 360-650-3164 for an urgent, same-day consultation. We can coach faculty and staff but we can't assess student safety without talking directly to them.

University Police

Emergency 911 or 360-650-3911
Non-emergency 360-650-3555

In the case of immediate danger, call University Police.

If you suspect that there is a suicide or homicide attempt in progress, University Police is the best resource to assist the student.

National Crisis Support Services

Crisis Text Line

Text HELLO to 741-741

Confidential, anonymous, free, 24/7 service connects texters with volunteer crisis counselors.

988 National Crisis & Suicide Lifeline


Confidential, anonymous, free, 24/7 service connects callers with crisis counselors.

Non-Crisis Support

The resources listed below support students’ mental health but are not equipped to take crisis calls.

Office of Student Life


The Office of Student Life can help students through the process of taking a leave of absence. This resource should not be used as a crisis resource; however, OSL often supports students in heightened distress.

The Office of Student Life also offers an option on their website to report a Student of Concern. The information you share is submitted to the Office of Student Life and professional staff review the information and will work to coordinate support for the student to ensure their well-being and success. In an immediate crisis, we recommend contacting the crisis resources listed above. However, this is a great resource when working with a student who is not receptive to your offers of help or students that you are generally concerned for but not sure how to help.

Substance Abuse Prevention


This resource offers support for students around substance use issues. Students can talk with a counselor about their concerns or questions about substance use or attend educational workshops to learn more about reducing risk. This is not a crisis resource, but rather a follow up resource to give students more support. Immediate and 24-hour resources are available on the Substance Abuse Prevention page of the Counseling and Wellness Center website at

Disability Access Center


This service can help students receive accommodations related to classes and class work if their mental health is affecting their school experience. This is not a crisis resource. Learn more at

Student Health Center

Select option 1 after-hours

The Student Health Center can assist students with physical health issues that may be contributing to stress. They also offer Behavioral Health services. These can be scheduled by calling the Student Health Center. The Student Health Center is not a crisis resource, but rather a place for students to receive regular follow up behavioral health care or to receive consultation about physical health issues that may be exacerbating their stress.

Student Outreach Services


Student Outreach Services offers programs to support first-generation, multicultural and non-traditional students. This is not a crisis resource but rather a connection that can be helpful for some students. Learn more at

Survivor Advocacy Services


This is a resource to support students who have experienced sexual or domestic violence. Our WWU Survivor Advocate offers support to affected students in many ways; learn more at Many crisis and 24-hour resources are available on the Survivor Advocacy Services page of the Counseling and Wellness Center website at

Residence Life


Students living in on campus housing can utilize their Residence Life staff for help managing a number of situations that can contribute to student stress, including roommate conflicts, requesting an accommodation for a single room, and help with housing insecurity concerns. The student should be encouraged to reach out to their Resident Advisor to start the process. While Residence Life can help students in a crisis if they reach out to their Residence Life staff, this number should not be considered a crisis resource.

LGBTQ+ Western


This department offers support and community for students who identify anywhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. More information about their services and offerings can be found at This is a great resource for students looking for support and community that affirms their identity. This is not resource to contact in a crisis, but rather a great follow up resource to help a student connect with if needed. Additional local, state, and national support resources for LGBTQ+ students can be found on the LGBTQ+ Western website at

Veteran Services


The Veteran Services Office can assist students who are in the military or military dependents understand and utilize their military or veteran benefits. This is not a crisis resource but rather a follow up connection to help students make. Learn more on the Veteran Services website at

Recognize Signs of Distress

Look for groupings, frequency, and severity of behaviors, not just isolated symptoms.


  • Sudden decline in academic performance
  • Frequently missing classes or assignments
  • Disturbing content in writing or presentations
  • Disrupting class (e.g., yelling or cursing)
  • Confrontations with peers or instructor


  • Self-disclosure of family problems, financial difficulties, or other personal distress
  • Unusual or disproportionate emotional response to situations
  • Panic reactions
  • Uncharacteristically troubled, confused, anxious, irritable, sad, hopeless
  • Peers expressing concern for student


  • Marked changes in physical appearance (e.g., poor hygiene, sudden weight gain/loss)
  • Behavior indicating loss of contact with reality
  • Visibly intoxicated or smelling of alcohol or cannabis
  • Rambling, tangential, or slurred speech
  • Excessive fatigue or sleeping in class
  • Observable signs of injury (e.g., facial bruising or cuts on arms)

Safety Risk

  • Verbal, written, or implied intent to harm self or others
  • Unprovoked anger, hostility, or physical violence (e.g., shoving, grabbing, assaulting, use of weapon)
  • Academic assignments dominated by themes of extreme hopelessness, helplessness, isolation, rage, despair, violence, self-injury
  • Stalking or harassing
  • Reckless, disorderly, or dangerous conduct
  • Making threats or disturbing comments via email, text, phone calls

Respond to the Situation

Help students in distress access Western's support network with these referral tips.

Use Active Listening

Make eye contact and give your full attention. Restate what the student says to make sure you understand what is causing their distress.

Inform Your Supervisor

Make sure to alert your supervisor/chair about your interaction. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) permits communication about a student of concern in connection with a health and safety emergency.

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.

Be Aware of Mandatory Reporting Requirements

If a student discloses an incident of sexual or gender-based harassment or assault, it must promptly be reported to Western’s Title IX Coordinator at 360-650-3307.

Give Concrete Help

If comfortable doing so, offer to help them call a campus resource such as the Counseling and Wellness Center or to walk with them to the resource office. You may also share links to the several Counseling and Wellness Center support services included on this page, including Substance Abuse Prevention, Survivor Advocacy Services, and more.

Refer Appropriately

Is the student an imminent danger to self or others? Does the student need immediate assistance? Use this decision tree to determine the most appropriate response to a student in distress.


No concern for the student's immediate safety. However, the student is having serious academic and/or personal issues. I believe they could benefit from additional support and resources. Refer the student to the resources at the top of this page.

Not Sure

Safety is not an immediate concern. However, the student is disruptive to the living- learning environment, exhibiting several indicators of distress. I need more guidance. Call the Office of Student Life at 360-650-3706. For additional mental health consultation, call the Counseling and Wellness Center at 360-650-3164.

Yes - Imminent Danger

Safety is an immediate concern. The student is imminently dangerous and actively threatening harm to self or others. Call 911 or University Police at 360-650-3911 without hesitation.  


The Red Folder Project is an initiative of Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services at Western Washington University. The project design is based on the Red Folder Project at Penn State. For more information about Western's Red Folder Project, email