Title

BEHAVIORS OF CONCERN & SIGNS OF DISTRESS

  • Infrequent attendance or completely stopped attending class.
  • Procrastination, incomplete assignments, or turning in poor quality work.
  • Difficulty concentrating in class.
  • Drastic decline in grades.
  • Making repeated requests for special consideration (i.e. extended deadlines).
  • Overly dependent on faculty member.
  • Sharing personal information that implies distress in other areas outside of the student's academic life.
  • Expressing emotionally distressed, violent, or suicidal content in writing/emails, drawing, or during classroom discussion.
  • Exhibiting withdrawn behavior (i.e. non-communicative, isolating, not responding to email/outreach attempts).
  • Exhibiting bizarre behavior (i.e. seemingly out-of-touch with reality, seeing/hearing things that are not there, exhibiting disjointed thoughts or paranoia).
  • Exhibiting disruptive classroom behavior (i.e. argumentative, confrontational, harassing, or socially inappropriate).
  • Significant changes in mood or daily functioning.
  • Decline in personal hygiene and appearance.
  • Difficulty caring for self (i.e. irregular sleep pattern, concerning eating pattern, routinely overexercises).
  • Being under an unusual amount of stress.
  • Difficulty coping with stressful life circumstance (i.e. death of family member, financial strain, physical illness, disability).
  • Threatening self or others.
  • Taking action to harm self/others (obtaining weapons, overdosing on pills, cutting self).
  • Contemplating suicide (i.e. giving away possessions, discussing death as a means to "solve all their problems", wishing they were not alive).
  • Increased irritability or aggressive behavior (i.e. resentful, abrasive, hostile, frustrated).
  • Demonstrating behavioral extremes that are more exaggerated/erratic than normal (i.e. hyper/animated, severely withdrawn, impulsive, or reckless).
  • Excessive crying, clingy behavior, rejecting help offered by others, or expressing hopelessness/worthlessness.
  • Isolates self.
  • Has minimal social support and/or significant disengagement from social activities.
  • Alcohol or drug use that jeopardizes relationships, interferes with academic performance, or impairs daily functioning.
  • Being subjected to bullying or bullying others.
  • Demonstrates verbal or physical aggression towards others.
  • Argumentative behavior that is disproportionate to the situation.

Conversation Starters

Are you concerned about an IC student? Not sure how to initiate the conversation with them? Below are a few suggestions that may help you in telling this student about the resources available to them on campus.

  • “I can’t help but notice that you [list behaviors or concerns]. Have you talked with anyone about this?”
  • “Do you have anyone on campus that you think could be really helpful to you right now?”
  • “Let’s submit an ICare Referral together so you can get support working through these challenges.”
  • “Does anyone else on campus knows what you’ve been going through?”

When starting a conversation with a distressed student, consider taking the following steps to make the conversation productive and comfortable:

  • Meet with the student in a quiet and private place where they feel comfortable to speak freely.
  • Start the conversation with an observation and an expression of concern (i.e. "I've noticed that you've appeared tired and distracted lately. I am concerned about you. How are you doing?")
  • Listen attentively and paraphrase what the student is saying to be sure you understand what is causing the student distress.
  • Acknowledge the student's feelings, and let the student know you want to help them resolve the problem.
  • Do not make judgments or minimize the concerns verbalized by the student.
  • Respect the student's privacy without making false promises of confidentiality.
  • Respond in a straightforward, considerate way. Help set up meetings with various campus resources or make a direct referral to a specific staff/faculty member on-campus.
  • Frame any decision to seek and accept help as a positive, intelligent, and wise choice.
  • Reassure them that students often seek help over the course of their college career to effectively achieve their goals.

Please Consider:

*If something just does not feel right and you are concerned for a student, please trust your intuition and consider submitting an ICare Referral or talking through your concerns with Program Director Rebecca Cogan (rcogan@ithaca.edu), Case Manager Emmy LoBrutto (elobrutto@ithaca.edu), or Program Coordinator Chris Wlosinski (cwlosinski@ithaca.edu).