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What is the Crimson Folder?

Harvard College students often encounter challenges during their undergraduate years and may not recognize that they need help or may need help accessing it. As an administrator, faculty or staff member, you are in an important position to guide Harvard College students to support services. The Harvard College Crimson Folder is designed to help you prepare to support students by learning how to become familiar with campus resources for undergraduates, recognize sights of distress, respond to a student’s needs with attentiveness and empathy, refer the student to others who may be better equipped to help.

Student Privacy, FERPA, and Confidentiality

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) permits communication about a student in connection with a health and safety emergency. Observations of a student’s conduct or statements made by a student are not protected by FERPA. Consideration for student privacy should always be given before information is shared. When communicating with a student, it is important to use the language “private and discreet” rather than “confidential,” as you may need to share information with those listed below.



Stay safe

If there is imminent danger to you, the student, or someone else, call HUPD 617-495-1212 or 911.

Take your time

Actively listen to the student’s concerns and consider how you might be able to help. Choose an appropriate place or situation for having this conversation.

Stay calm

Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself. Use a calm voice when talking and asking questions.

Use active listening

Make eye contact and give your full attention. Restate what the student says to make sure you understand what is causing the distress (e.g., “As I listen to you, I hear you saying…”).

Ask direct questions

Don’t be afraid to directly ask the student if they are having thoughts of harming themselves or others. By asking questions you are not instilling the thought.

Respond tips


Identify what the Harvard College student needs.

Listen to the student to determine their immediate needs. Review the options below to guide the student to the appropriate resource.


If the student’s conduct is clearly reckless, dangerous, disorderly, or threatening of immediate harm to self or others in the community, call HUPD at 617-495-1212 or 911.

Any report made to HUPD involving a Harvard College student will be brought to the attention of the Harvard College Dean of Students Office (DSO).


If the student shows signs of distress, but it is not clear how serious it is, or if you feel uneasy and concerned about the student:

  • During Business Hours: Contact the student’s Resident Dean at 617-495-1574 for first-year students or 617-496-7700 for sophomores, juniors, seniors, and visiting undergraduates to strategize and triage student support.
  • After Hours: Contact CAMHS Cares at 617-495-2042 to connect the student to mental health support.


If you are not concerned for anyone’s immediate safety, but the student is having significant academic or personal issues and could use some support, review the resources listed on page 8 and offer to connect the student to the office that will best support them.

If you are unsure, refer the student to meet with their Resident Dean:

Wellness checks

A wellness check is a consultative process that exemplifies the partnership between the Harvard College Dean of Students Office and faculty and staff in responding to student needs. If you have not heard from a student for some time and you or others are concerned about their safety or well-being, it may be necessary to initiate a wellness check. This process typically begins with contacting the student’s emergency contact and may involve enlisting the assistance of HUPD or local police.

Once you recognize that it has been some time since you have heard from the student, it is helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it typical that the student would not reply to emails for some time?
  • When was the last time you heard from or physically saw the student?
  • Does the student have a history of being out of contact?
  • Are there other community members (peers, colleagues, etc.) that might be in touch with the student?
  • Have others expressed concern about the student?
  • What outreach have you tried already—emails, calls, leaving notes, using department means (Slack, messaging app, etc.)? Have you tried multiple means to connect?
  • Are there any mental or physical health concerns that you are aware of?
  • Does the student live alone or with others?

Initial outreach to the student may come from a member of the department or their Resident Dean. If a student does not respond to faculty or departmental outreach, it may be necessary to consult with the Harvard College Dean of Students Office for support and to initiate a wellness check.

Staff, faculty, or other community members may reach out via email or call the student’s Resident Dean.

For first-year students, please call or email their Resident Dean of First-Year Students.

For other undergraduates, please call or email the Resident Dean of their House or Community.

If you are unsure about which Resident Dean to contact, you may call the Dean of Students Office at 617-496-7700 or the Senior Resident Dean at 617-496-9413 (


Emergency Resources

Counseling and Mental Health Hotlines

  • CAMHS Cares Line: 617-495-2042
    • 24-hour access line that allows students (or those concerned about a student) to speak with a licensed counselor
  • SHARE Hotline: 617-495-9100
    • 24/7 confidential hotline for all Harvard community members who have been impacted by sexual assault, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination

Support for Faculty & Staff

Harvard Business School/HBS Resources

Harvard College Resources

Additional Community Resources