Assisting Distressed Student

professor and student talkingFaculty and staff are often able to identify students in distress. As faculty or staff, you are often seen by students as role models, mentors, advisors and as a source of support. You may notice a change in your students and may be concerned. This is a great first step in assisting that student. Students–like us–may experience stressors and be unsure what do to next.

While it is understandable that one might be upset, depressed or anxious in a situation, the following signs might indicate that the response is persistent and more than just "situational."

  • Decline in quality of course work and class participation
  • Disruptive behavior in class
  • Incapacitating test anxiety
  • Increased absences from class
  • Creative work or writings indicating extreme hopelessness, despair, anger or isolation
  • Attending class appearing bleary-eyed, hung over or smelling of alcohol
  • Observable signs of an injury
  • Violent or extremely disruptive behavior
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Isolation from friends, family, and classmates
  • Irritability, aggressiveness, agitation, nonstop talking
  • Excessive or irrational worrying
  • Problems with roommates, family or romantic partners
  • Experiencing a physical or sexual assault
  • Experiencing discrimination based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disabilities

The best ways to respond depends upon the urgency of the situation. If you judge a situation to be urgent or an emergency (e.g., threat to safety/high-risk cues), please contact CAPS to consult with the Director or seek the assistance of campus police.

For more information please contact CAPS at 301-687-4234 or Student Affairs Division at 301-687-4311.

Helping Students in Distress Faculty and Staff Guide