Often, faculty or staff are in a position to offer a helping hand to students. If you are concerned that a student may be in a state of emotional distress, make a report. Each person has their own comfort level in terms of discussing issues with students. Do the best you can. The most important thing is that you do something.
You should make a report when you notice changes or behaviors that you would consider unusual for that student. The list of behaviors below may be indicators of distress, especially when multiple signs are present.
Indicators of Distress
Stress may manifest itself in different ways in different students. In the long run, it doesn’t hurt to make a report no matter what the outcome may be.
- Decline in grades
- Repeated absences
- Multiple requests for extentions
- Considering leaving school
- Disruption to learning environment
- Inappropriate or concerning content in assignments
- Feeling sad more often than not
- Feeling tense, worried, or experiencing panic attacks
- Unprovoked anger
- Impulsiveness, loss of self-control
- Confused speech or behavior
- Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia
- Overwhelming concern about finances, relationships, or role balance
- Changes in physical appearance
- Excessive fatigue or low energy
- Agitated expression or movements
- Excessive weight loss or gain
- Bruises, cuts, or other injury
- Physical or verbal outbursts
- Withdrawing socially
- Change in non-verbal behavior
Safety Risk Indicators
- Statements about death, dying, suicide, or homicide
- Physical violence
- Sexual assault
- Stalking and/or harassment of any kind
- Interpersonal violence
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Threatening communication
Talk About It
Broach the subject in a caring and supportive way. Cleary express your concern to students and remind them that they have a personal responsibility as a member of the community. Respect the student’s privacy, but don’t promise confidentiality.
Engage in conversation by remaining calm, concise, and clear when speaking with the student. Gain a clear understanding of what the student is saying or asking. Ask the student about their support network. Listen! Don’t minimize the problem or try to solve it too quickly without advice.
Consult with someone – you can connect with the Dean of Students
You can always refer to the Dean of Students when in doubt. Reassure the student that their decision to seek help or support is a wise choice – they are not alone. Offer to meet with the student again to follow up and check in on them.