Identifying Distressed Students

Any member of The University of Arizona community may come in contact with a distressed student. Many students come to the attention of faculty or staff through journal entries, papers, or shifts in behavior. Being aware of distress signals, methods of intervention, and sources of help for the student can help you provide assistance. The Dean of Students Office and Counseling and Psych Services are available to students, faculty, staff, and parents for consultation and referral. Please contact the Dean of Students Office at (520) 621-7057 or Counseling and Psych Services at (520) 621-6490 to discuss any concerns. Below are some of the more prevalent behavioral and academic signs that students exhibit when they are in distress.
Increased anxiety
Changes in behavior
Irregular sleep patterns
Suicidal thoughts Fatigue
Substance abuse
Disorientation or confusion
Changes in hygiene Expressing family problems
Talk of weapons
Aggressive behavior
Bizarre behavior
Plans to commit suicide
Significant weight change
Extreme statements
Increased irritability Expressing feelings of helplessness
Late work
Decline in work performance
Missed assignments Inability to concentrate
Drop in grades
Key questions which may help you identify a distressed student:
  • Has the student’s personality changed?
  • Has the student’s behavior changed?
  • Is the change in behavior gradual or is it sudden?
  • What kind of support network does the student have?
  • Is the student doing anything about his/her situation?
Dean of Students Office
Counseling and Psychological Services