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Distressing Behaviors

Students in distress are more likely to exhibit disruptive behaviors.

Below are some indicators that could suggest a student is in distress and may need additional assistance.

Academic Distress:

– Repeated absences from class, section, or lab
– Extreme disorganization or erratic performance
– Written or artistic expression of unusual violence, morbidity, social isolation, despair, or confusion; essays or papers that focus on suicide or death
– Patterns of perfectionism: e.g., can’t accept themselves if they don’t get an A+
– Overblown or disproportionate response to grades or other evaluations

Behavioral/Emotional Distress:

– Direct statements indicating distress, family problems, or loss
– Angry or hostile outbursts, yelling, or aggressive comments
– More withdrawn or more animated than usual
– Expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness; crying or tearfulness
– Expressions of severe anxiety or irritability
– Excessively demanding or dependent behavior
– Lack of response to outreach from course staff or peers
– Shakiness, tremors, fidgeting, or pacing

Physical Distress:

– Deterioration in physical appearance or personal hygiene
– Excessive fatigue, exhaustion; falling asleep in class repeatedly
– Visible changes in weight; statements about change in appetite or sleep
– Noticeable cuts, bruises, or burns
– Frequent or chronic illness
– Disorganized speech, rapid or slurred speech, confusion

Other Factors:

– Concern about a student by their peers or teaching assistant
– A hunch or gut-level reaction that something is wrong