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Providing help for distressed students

If you suspect you're dealing with a distressed student, we recommend taking action at the first sign of a problem. Our end goal, of course, is to allow for the learning process to continue.

Our office can assist by:

  • helping to centralize information about students of concern; if the individual causes a problem in a classroom, chances are he/she is having problems in other places on campus
  • providing advice about how to approach a student of concern; we work with many academic and Student Affairs offices that will provide assistance to you and the student
  • coordinating disciplinary action and/or mental health assistance for the student in question if there is a need

Signs to help identify a distressed student

  • the once organized, timely and cooperative student doesn't seem to be that way now
  • the student may be unusually quiet or absent
  • the student may not communicate (doesn't talk or do assignments as needed, or appropriately)
  • the student’s demeanor or appearance may change
  • the student may be quietly distressed – perhaps depressed or forlorn; these students may take longer to notice than angry, belligerent or disorganized students
  • the student may be angry, belligerent or disorganized; we always recommend that behavior be addressed first and these students should be confronted regarding their behavior

Note: Allow the student to disclose what is distressing him/her. If others have information, the Office of the Dean of Students can help collect the information, as appropriate, in a case conference format.

Signs to help identify a disruptive student

  • the student writes outrageously violent stories and doesn't want constructive – or any – feedback
  • the student interrupts and curses at random times, but doesn't want to talk to the professor
  • the student intimidates the professor and others
  • the student stalks another person

Case Management, specifically the Students of Concern committee, wants to know about disruptive behavior. In addition to Case Management (aka C.A.R.E. Team), the University Counseling Center is an important resource when dealing with distressed or disruptive students. For specific advice and actions you can take, visit the counseling center’s webpage for faculty, which also includes links to these helpful guides: Students in Distress: The Faculty Role (.pdf 204.3kb), Responding to Disruptive Behavior in the Classroom (.pdf 200.3kb) and Responding to Disturbing Content (.pdf 193.5kb).

Last Updated: 4/17/18