Signs of Distress

Students of concern are students with social, emotional, behavioral or me​dical difficulties, or life stressors that are affecting their ability to fully participate in the academic community.​

General Signs of Distress: What to Look For

​​​​​​Psychological Signs

  • Self-disclosure of personal distress such as family problems, financial difficulties, depression, grief, or thoughts of suicide
  • Excessive worry, tearfulness, panic reactions, irritability, or unusual apathy
  • Unusual/disproportional emotional response to events
  • Delusions and paranoia
  • Verbal abuse (e.g., taunting, badgering, intimidation)
  • Expressions of concern about the studen​​t by his/her peers

Academic Signs

  • Sudden decline in quality of work and grades
  • Repeated absences
  • Continuous classroom disruptions
  • Multiple requests for extensions
  • Disturbing content in writing or presentations (e.g. violence, death themes)
  • Overly demanding of faculty and staff time and attention
  • You find yourself focusing more on personal topics, rather than academic, during office hours

Physical/Behavioral Signs

  • Marked changes in physical appearance including deterioration in grooming, hygiene, or weight loss/gain
  • Excessive fatigue/severe sleep disturbance
  • Abandonment of previously enjoyed activities, social withdrawal
  • Intoxication, hangovers, or smelling of alcohol
  • Drug use or abuse
  • Inappropriate or complete lack of emotion
  • Disoriented or appearing “out of it”

Safety Risk Signs

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Unprovoked anger or hostility
  • Physical violence
  • Making implied or direct threats to harm self or others
  • Academic assignments dominated by themes of extreme hopelessness, rage, worthlessness, isolation, despair, acting out, suicidal ideations/violent  behaviors—a “cry for help”
  • Stalking or harassing behavior
  • Communicating threats via email, social media, texting, phone calls, or other correspondence