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Responding to Students in Emotional Distress

Signs of Possible Psychological Distress

  • Significant change in appearance or behavior
  • Decline in quality of work or class participation; missed classes or assignments
  • Social isolation or withdrawal
  • Agitation, non-stop talking; disruptive or angry outbursts
  • Expressionless face, appears sad; conveys hopelessness
  • Indicates that she or he is ashamed or feels like a disappointment
  • Disorganized or irrational thinking; in a fog or confused
  • Disheveled appearance
  • Dramatic weight loss or weight gain
  • Makes threats of harm to self or others, either vague or specific
  • Writing/artwork with morbid, depressive or angry themes
  • Inappropriate classroom behavior
  • Verbal warning signs of suicide, either indirect or direct:

         “I can’t go on.” “My family would be better off without me.” “Who cares if I’m not around anyway? ”I wish I were dead.”
         “If _________, I’ll kill myself.” (e.g., I fail this course, she leaves me.)