Students in Distress

Recognizing and responding to students in distress

DOS provides opportunities and experiences that support student learning and personal development, as well as help students with issues affecting their academic and personal life at Binghamton University. The CARE Team was established to provide an entry point for students who need assistance solving problems. To that end, we want to work in cooperation with the campus community and become a solution-center for students as they experience difficulties. One significant way we can all work together is in identifying and providing help to students in distress.

Presentation schedule

The Recognizing and Responding to Students in Distress presentation aims to provide a straightforward and engaging overview of what faculty and campus staff should know in order to identify a student who may be experiencing distress or struggling with a mental health concern, and how to respond. Faculty and staff will also have the opportunity to learn more about current University mental health initiatives and resources available across campus. This presentation is a collaborative effort between University professionals from: The Dean of Students' CARE Team, Health and Counseling Services, Health Prevention and Promotion Services, Services for Students with Disabilities, Residential Life, the Healthy Campus Initiative and the JED Foundation.

Faculty and staff are invited to attend one of our monthly virtual presentation sessions:

  • Noon–1 p.m., Feb. 14
  • Noon–1 p.m., March 17
  • Noon–1 p.m., April 11
  • Noon–1 p.m., May 12

Registration is required to attend for each session. Announcements and registration information will be sent via Dateline.

Providing a safety net for our students

If you are concerned that a student is exhibiting personality or behavioral changes such as a lack of interest or engagement with others or signs of aggression, completing a referral form for the CARE Team would be a great first step and can:

  • help coordinate the University response to students who demonstrate violence, threats to self or others, or are significantly disruptive;
  • develop action plans to support student and community safety, prevent violence, support student development and maintain a campus environment conducive to learning; and
  • consult with faculty, staff and students involved in or affected by a student's behavior, and other individuals as appropriate.

If you are unsure and would like to discuss your concern before making a referral, you may contact the CARE Team at or 607-777-2804.

When consulting with the CARE Team, only those with a need-to-know will be brought into the circle of information. Consulting with a case manager does not mean the student of concern's situation is automatically brought to the SOC Committee.

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); and
  • 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 students to disclose what is distressing them. If others have information, the DOS 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.

The University Counseling Center is also an important resource when dealing with distressed or disruptive students. For specific advice and actions you can take, view the counseling center's resources.