Signs of Distress

As a faculty or staff member, you interact with students who conduct themselves in many different ways. When you see unusual behavior, it is important that you take notice. Use this information to guide your response to a student who exhibits signs of distress or danger.

Indicators to Consider

Academic Indicators

Academic Indicators
  • Significant decline in grades or performance
  • Repeated absences
  • Bizarre assignment content
  • Overly demanding of attention
  • Disruptive behavior in class

Physical Indicators

  • Deteriorating hygienePhysical Indicators
  • Excessive fatigue or irritability
  • Tearfulness
  • Slurred speech
  • Out of touch with reality

Psychological Indicators

  • Disclosure of personal distressPsychological Indicators
  • Panic or anxiety attacks
  • Verbally abusive
  • Expressions of hopelessness
  • Concern from friends

Safety Risk Indicators

  • Threatening harmSafety Risk Indicators
  • Unprovoked anger or hostility
  • Communicating threats
  • Other information containing themes of hopelessness, isolation, or despair

Know the Differences: Distressed vs. Dangerous

Click below to compare key differences between a student who is distressed and a student who may pose a threat.