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How to Help Students in Distress

How to Help Students in Distress

image of faculty guide for distress students     PDF Handout: Faculty Guide for dealing with distress & disturbance

image of disturbing writing handout      PDF Handout: Responding to Disturbing Writing in Student Work

What are some signs that a student may be in distress?

Noticeable changes from previous behavior such as:

  • Marked change in academic performance
  • Decline in hygiene
  • Increased absences
  • Increased depression, anxiety, tearfulness, irritability
  • Sleeping in class, extreme fatigue/lethargy
  • Isolation or avoidance of others
  • Repeated requests for special consideration(e.g. grade changes, deadline extensions, etc.)
  • Disruptive behavior in the classroom (angry outbursts, crying  spells "out of the blue",  attacking others' opinions, etc.)
  • Writing content in assignments or emails that suggests threat to self or others.
  • Lack of empathy for others.
How should I respond to a student in distress?

  • Consider meeting with the student to talk about your concerns.  Inform your supervisor about your concerns and let someone else know when and where you will be meeting with the student. Mention specific behaviors that you are concerned about. Listen and remain calm.

  • If you have any reason to be concerned for your safety, do not meet with the student alone.

  • Consult with the Counseling Center (x5136). If someone is available, we can do the consult over the phone, or if you prefer, you can schedule an appointment to do a face-to-face consult with one of our professional counseling staff members.

  • Encourage the student to seek available resources including the Counseling Center. You can have the student call our office to schedule an appointment(337-475-5136), or if you can walk the student over to our office in Kaufman 112.

  • Follow-up with the student.  Showing that you care about the student's welfare can go a long way in helping the student to feel supported.

  • If the student is an immediate threat to themselves or others, call University Police (x5711) immediately.


  • University Police

    If the student is an immediate threat to self or others

  • Counseling Center

    Call to make an appointment. Walk-in sessions for crisis situations.

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline

    A free, confidential hotline.
  • Campus Life

    For code of conduct violations.

  • University Services

    Refer students here who may be at risk for dropping out. Can also do wellness checks on students of concern.

  • Student Health Services

    Address acute medical care needs.