|Indicators of Distress|
Below is a list of indicators that may suggest that a student is in trouble. An individual may show only a few or multiple indicators of distress. They may signal a short-term transient state or be signs of a more serious concern.
- Depressed or withdrawn demeanor
- Marked change in affect, appearance and/or personality
- Poor hygiene
- Decreased social interaction and classroom participation
- Frequent lateness or absence from class
- Diminished attention and concentration; disorganization
- Decreased motivation
- Poor academic progress
- Easily agitated; irritable
- Disrupted sleep and eating patterns (significant weight gain or loss)
- Decreased pleasure in daily activities
- Inordinate anxiety
- Expressions of hopelessness and/or excessive guilt
- Abuse of alcohol, drugs (caffeine and tobacco included) and/or food
- Disruptive behaviors in the learning environment
- Verbally or physically aggressive behaviors
- Frequent references to death or direct expressions of suicide or homicidal thought
- Distortion of reality (e.g., auditory, visual or kinesthetic hallucinations; paranoia)
- Disruption of previous cognitive functioning
- Excessive or retarded physical movement and/or speech
- Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities with a high likelihood for negative consequences (e.g., unrestrained spending sprees, sexual indiscretions)
- Multiple losses or changes in one’s life.
Universities are seeing more students on campus with psychological conditions than ever before, but it is important to note that while individuals may evoke some concern because of unusual behavior, this may not mean that they represent a danger to self or others. While it is important to pay attention to students who may be in distress, a student who presents in an unusual manner may have a developmental disorder or other psychological condition that interferes with their social interactions. It is very difficult to predict violent behavior.
In order to function well, we all need a foundation of support from important people in our lives as well as strong internal resources to maintain wellbeing. When an individual shows distress, their coping strategies may not be very effective.
Following is a list of factors that may help to alleviate stress:
- Integration in a positive social milieu
- Supportive network of family and friends (i.e., someone to talk to)
- Commitment to family, pets, school, job, etc.
- Commitment to short-term and long-term goals (e.g., finishing a course paper, semester completion, degree plan)
- Spiritual faith; regular use of ritual, prayer or meditation
- Regular exercise
- Adequate sleep and nutrition
- Positive intrapersonal coping styles such as using problem-solving techniques, creative artistic expression, etc.