The University experience consists of self-discovery and a lot of changes. University students face a great deal of stress during this time as it can be difficult to adapt to a new environment. Along with new and exciting opportunities also comes various pressures of life.
Some students may need additional support during this time of change. It’s important to understand specific signs and symptoms that a student in distress could express.
Signs and Symptoms of Distress
- Excessive procrastination and very poorly prepared work, especially if this is inconsistent with previous work.
- Infrequent class attendance with little or no work completed.
- Listlessness, lack of energy, or frequently falling asleep in class.
- Marked changes in personal hygiene.
- Repeated requests for special consideration, e.g., deadline extensions.
- Impaired speech or garbled, disjointed thoughts.
- Homicidal threats.
- Behavior that regularly interferes with decorum or effective management in class.
- Overtly suicidal thoughts, e.g., referring to suicide as a current option.
- High levels of irritability, including unruly, aggressive, violent, or abrasive behavior.
- Inability to make decisions despite your repeated attempts to clarify and to encourage.
- Dramatic weight loss or weight gain.
- Bizarre or strange behavior, which is obviously inappropriate to the situation, e.g., talking to "invisible" people.
- Normal emotions that are displayed to an extreme degree or for a prolonged period of time, e.g., fearfulness, tearfulness, nervousness.
How You Can Help
- Talk to the student in private.
- Listen carefully.
- Show concern and interest.
- Repeat back the essence of what the student has told you.
- Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental. Try not to minimize the student's concerns or problems.
- Consider the Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility as a resource and discuss a referral with the student.
- If the student resists help and you are worried, contact the Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility to discuss your concerns.
- Involve yourself only as far as you want to go. Extending oneself can be a gratifying experience when kept within realistic limits.
How to Make a Referral to Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility
- Suggest the student call or come in to make an appointment. Give the Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility phone number (573-986-6191) and location (Crisp Hall 201-202) at that time.
- If you wish to assist the student directly, call the secretary at the Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility while the student is in your office in order to assure that an appointment is made. Write down the appointment information (time, date, counselor, and location) for the student.
- If the situation is an emergency, state that "the student needs an appointment immediately."
- Sometimes it is useful or necessary for you to walk the student over to the Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility.
- If you are concerned about a student but are uncertain about the appropriateness of a referral, feel free to call the Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility for a consultation.
After Hours Services
The Crisis Response Team coordinates crisis coverage for campus emergencies when the Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility is not open. Call the University Department of Public Safety (573) 651-2911 for contact with the Crisis Coordinator on Call.
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701