Roanoke College

Signs of a Student in Distress

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A student in distress may not be disruptive to others, but may exhibit behaviors which indicate something is wrong, show signs of emotional distress and indicate that assistance is needed. They may also be reluctant or unable to acknowledge a need for personal help. Behaviors may include:

  1. Serious grade problems or a change from consistently passing grades to unaccountably poor performance.

  2. Excessive absences, especially if the student has previously demonstrated consistent attendance.

  3. Unusual or markedly changed patterns of interaction, i.e., avoidance of participation, excessive anxiety when called upon, domination of discussions, etc.

  4. Other characteristics that suggest the student is having trouble managing stress successfully e.g., a depressed, lethargic mood; very rapid speech; swollen, red eyes; marked change in personal dress and hygiene; or falling asleep during class.

  5. Repeated requests for special consideration, such as deadline extensions, especially if the student appears uncomfortable or highly emotional while disclosing the circumstances prompting the request:

  6. New or repeated behavior which pushes the limits of decorum and which interferes with effective management of the immediate living-learning environment.

  7. Unusual or exaggerated emotional responses which are obviously inappropriate to the situation.