A new computer software system at The University of Southern Mississippi provides a confidential method to report irregular or marked change in the behavior of a student, or anticipation of behavior that would be cause for concern.
Red Flag is a Web-based software allowing members of the campus community, including students, faculty and staff, to anonymously submit information to the university’s Campus Action Referral and Evaluation System (CARES) regarding student care needs or observations about student behavior that sends up a “red flag.” It can be found online at www.usm.edu/cares.
“We’ve seen incidents on campuses across the nation in recent years where students who displayed erratic behavior ultimately proved to be of harm to themselves and others," said Deena Crawford, director of Southern Miss Student Counseling Services and a member of the CARES team. “This (Red Flag software) is really a vital part of our effort to reach out to those students who need help.”
Red Flag reports provide valuable information for campus professionals to evaluate and assess in the examination process, empowering them with the knowledge necessary to enact needed responses and outreach efforts.
After a report is reviewed by the CARES team, appropriate steps are taken to ensure that the student receives assistance. The CARES Team is a multi-disciplinary group of campus professionals that address student concerns and create protocols and procedures regarding student behavior and mental health issues. It reviews these referrals and collaborates on if and how to intervene with a “student of concern.”
“Through this collaboration, we can help the university advance its mission of providing a safe and supportive environment for learning and social growth,” said CARES team member and dean of students Dr. Eddie Holloway.
Similar concerns about a faculty or staff member should be reported to Southern Miss Human Resources by calling 601.266.4050.
In addition, students who are in distress due to mental health issues or overwhelming stressors can be connected to various resources through CARES, Crawford said. CARES also offers assistance to students who need help adjusting to campus life through academic, student affairs and community resources.
CARES has four components, including the CARE team; the critical incident response team, which provides immediate response to campus crisis situations; the CARE advisory team, whose members serve as liaisons between the CARE team and the campus community; and Campus Connections, which provides gatekeeper training and education for students, parents and faculty and staff regarding issues of safety and mental health on campus.
To learn more about CARES, online visit www.usm.edu/cares; or call the Dean of Students Office at 601.266.6028; Student Counseling Services at 601.266.4829; or University Police at 601.266.4986.
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.