How to Recognize a Distressed Student

While most students cope successfully with demands of college life, for some, the pressures can become overwhelming and unmanageable. If you observe some of the following, we encourage you to talk to your student about what may be going on for him/her and possibly about receiving help from us. While this list is not intended to be exhaustive, we hope that it provides you with some information regarding “warning signs.”

  • Increased tardiness or absences
  • Incomplete assignments
  • Diminished motivation or concentration
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Noticeable weight loss
  • Significantly low and/or elevated mood
  • Appearing fatigued, lethargic, or extremely sad
  • Irritable, argumentative, or disruptive behavior
  • Very rapid speech, or heightened activity and restlessness
  • Excessively anxious, worried, or stressed
  • Suspected alcohol or other substance abuse
  • Bizarre behavior or speech

When reaching out to your student, here are some suggestions that might make the situation more comfortable for you and helpful for your student:

  • Talk to your student in private when both of you have time and are not rushed or preoccupied.
  • Describe the things you have observed that concern you.
  • Listen to your student. Communicate understanding by restating what you heard him/her say.
  • Avoid judging, evaluating, and criticizing. Simply listen and offer support.
  • Remind your student that he/she is not alone. Work with him/her to identify options additional sources of support (i.e., family, friends, clergy, coach).
  • Talk to your student about seeking counseling services by referring them to us.
  • Follow up with your student. Check in with him/her to ensure that help has been received.

For information about how to refer students to us, please go here.