In an effort to promote a healthy lifestyle and contribute to safe and secure campuses at The University of Southern Mississippi, the Gulf Park campus is now using CARES, the Campus Action Referral and Evaluation System, to report critical incidents at the university.
The CARE System, which contributes to the climate of academic success at the university, facilitates rapid assessment and effective referral of students with mental health issues and behavioral issues; assists and supports students to optimize their performance in the academic environment; helps to reduce the risk of harm to self or others; contributes to a safe and productive living and learning environment for students, faculty and staff; and educates and trains students, faculty and staff to recognize students in need of referral.
“The goal of the CARES team is to promote a safe environment for all students, faculty and staff focused on student learning and student development,” said Christy Elias, director of Student Affairs on the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus. “Our team works together for greater communication, collaboration and coordination in responding to concerns regarding student behavior. Ultimately, we want to raise awareness of the warning signs a student may undergo so that when or if something occurs they can get help or offer to assist their friends.”
CARES is comprised of four components, which include the CARES team, the Critical Incident Response Team, the CARES Advisory Team and Campus Connections. Dr. Casey Maugh, associate director of interdisciplinary studies and associate professor of communication studies at Southern Miss, serves as the chair for CARES at the Gulf Park campus.
“The CARES team is a group of faculty and staff who meet weekly to discuss any mental health concerns and reach out to students of concern to get them in touch with local, campus resources,” said Maugh. “The opening of the wellness center on the Gulf Park campus has helped us partner students with an on-campus mental health professional to ensure students get the help they need.”
Using the web-based software, Red Flag, members of the campus community can confidentially submit information to the CARES Team regarding student care needs or a concerning pattern or marked change of student behavior.