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Distressed Student Behaviors

These are the behaviors that cause us to feel alarmed, upset or worried.

  • Excessive absences when the student had previously been attending classes
  • Marked change in how they interact with you or others students
  • A change in classroom and grade performance
  • The student looks unhappy or sad
  • Their writing includes odd or concerning themes
  • The student seems anxious
  • Deterioration in hygiene and self-care

What can you do?

  • You may have a hunch or gut-level reaction that something is wrong. Trust your intuition.
  • Be mindful of the student’s privacy, but don’t promise confidentiality.
  • Listen carefully; show concern and interest.
  • Express concern for the student’s well-being, point out specifically the signs you’ve observed, and invite a response, e.g., “I’ve noticed you’ve been late recently, you no longer participate, and you seem troubled. I’m concerned about you.”
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
  • Suggest Counseling Services as a resource and discuss this with the student. Offer a Counseling Services brochure (call 5210 to order).
  • Explain to the student that counseling and referral services at the Center are confidential. Let the student know that the Counseling Center staff will not discuss their concerns with anyone (not even you) without their written permission.
  • If the student resists help and you are still worried, contact Counseling Services to discuss your concerns.
  • Follow up with the student by inquiring as to whether she/he followed through with their appointment and how she/he felt about the session.

What should you not do?

  • Don't disregard what you've observed. At the very least, convey your observations to the CARE team or Counseling Services.
  • Remember that talking about a problem or crisis doesn't make it worse. This is the first step toward resolving any difficulty.
  • Don't say "You're depressed" or, "You have an eating disorder." Labeling, whether accurate or inaccurate, can discourage a student who is afraid of being stigmatized from getting help.