Worried about a student?
This page has information to help you as you address your concerns about a student. You will find information about signs of distress, how to speak with a student in distress, and referring to campus resources. In addition to this page, you may be interested in this additional resource on helping friends who are struggling or our curated list of books on a variety of mental health topics.
Signs of Distress
Although fluctuations in academic performance, mood, stress level, or interpersonal behavior are normal throughout college, it’s important to be aware of signs of excessive distress. Extreme or significant changes that persist or interfere with daily functioning are indicative of excessive distress and may warrant a referral to the Counseling Center. Here are some signs of distress you can keep an eye out for:
- Excessive absences
- Uncharacteristically poor work
- Dropping grades
- Difficulty concentrating/focusing
- Difficulty working in teams/groups
- Increased difficulty completing tasks
- Panic attacks and increased anxiety around exams or deadlines
- Increased frequency of headaches
- Recurring colds and minor illness
- Frequent muscle ache and/or tightness
- Persistent fatigue
- Increased generalized frustration, agitation, irritability and/or anger
- Intense, dramatic, or volatile emotions
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Verbal or written references to distress, including suicidal/homicidal thoughts or plans
- Changes in personal hygiene
- Changes in eating patterns
- Changes in sleep patterns and level of energy (difficult to fall asleep, waking up frequently, feeling lethargic)
- Inappropriate responses and/or disorganized thoughts
- Physical harm to self
- Difficulty getting along with others
- Isolation from family and friends
- Extreme defensiveness
- Amplified short-temper
More information about potential warning signs that a friend might be in excessive distress can be found here from The JED Foundation.
How to Respond to a Student in Distress
At Hamilton College, it is our shared responsibility to look out for one another. The Counseling Center is here to support you. We want to give you tools to help students in distress as you may be the first one to notice these signs.