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 & Psych Services (CAPS) Main Clinic at Campus Health (520) 621-3334 or CAPS North Clinic in the North District at (520) 626-3100 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


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