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Distressed Student Behaviors

Distressed Student Behaviors

These are the behaviors that cause us to feel alarmed, upset, or worried.

  • Excessive absences when the student had previously been attending classes
  • Marked change in how the student interacts with you or other students
  • A change in classroom and grade performance
  • The student looks unhappy or sad
  • His/her writing includes odd or concerning themes
  • The student seems anxious
  • Deterioration in hygiene and self-care

What can you do?

  • You may have a hunch or gut-level reaction that something is wrong. Trust your intuition.
  • Be mindful of the student's privacy, but do not promise confidentiality.
  • Listen carefully; show concern and interest.
  • Express concern for the student's well-being, point out the specific signs you've observed, and invite a response, e.g., "I've noticed you've been late recently, you no longer participate, and you seem troubled. I'm concerned about you."
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
  • Suggest the Counseling Center as a resource and discuss this with the student. Offer a Counseling Center brochure  which you can obtain by requesting copies from the Counseling Center Cattaraugus County Campus 716.376.7508, Jamestown Campus 716.338.1007, North County Extension Center at 716.338.6527 or 6528.
  • Explain to the student that counseling and referral services at the Counseling Center are confidential. Let the student know that the Counseling Center staff will not discuss their concerns with anyone (not even you) without their written permission.
  • If the student resists help and you are still worried, contact a member of the BITeam  or the Counseling Center to discuss your concerns.
  • Follow up with the student by inquiring as to whether she/he followed through with the appointment and how she/he felt about the session.

What should you not do?

  • Do not disregard what you have observed. At the very least, convey your observations to the BIT team or the Counseling Center.
  • Remember that talking about a problem or crisis does not make it worse. This is the first step toward resolving any difficulty.
  • Do not say "You're depressed" or, "You have an eating disorder." Labeling, whether accurate or inaccurate, can discourage a student who is afraid of being stigmatized from getting help.

To make a referral to the BIT please use this form.

NaBITA Threat Assessment Tool from The National Center for Higher Education Risk Management