Faculty Guide: Identifying students in distress

How do I know if a student is in distress?

Academic Indicators:

  • Drop in grades
  • Missed assignments
  • Repeated requests for accommodations (i.e. extensions)
  • Content of work indicates distress (i.e. hopelessness, rage)

Physical Indicators:

  • Deterioration in appearance (dirty clothing)
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Drastic changes in weight (gain or loss)
  • Excessive fatigue (yawning, sleeping in class, blank look)

Interpersonal/Affective Indicators:

  • Tearfulness; unusual behaviour (running out of class)
  • Direct statements of distress (from student or his/her peers)
  • Excessive dependence/uncertainty
  • A hunch (gut feeling) that something is wrong

Safety/Risk Indicators:

  • A direct note or verbal statement about suicide or finality
  • Self-injurious or self-destructive behaviour
  • Any behaviours that possess risk of harm to self or others