Recognizing Students in Distress

It’s common for college students to experience considerable personal and school-related stress. In an attempt to juggle the demands of college and their personal lives, sometimes students may act out in self-destructive ways and aggressively. Strong feelings of anger, depression and anxiety are common. Sometimes an additional issue or stressor can precipitate a crisis.

By the Numbers

Studies indicate that in a group of 100 college students (50 men and 50 women) at least:

  • 25 will have parents who are divorced
  • 15 will have a substance-abusing parent
  • 10 will have a substance-abuse problem
  • 15 females will be victims of rape or sexual abuse
  • 6 females will have an eating disorder
  • 4 males will be victims of sexual abuse
  • 3 females will have an unplanned pregnancy during college
Other common stressors include:
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Death of a loved one
  • Breakup of an intimate relationship
  • Serious illness
  • Feelings of rejection by family
  • Academic pressure or failure
  • Identity confusion
  • Cultural oppression/discrimination
  • Low motivation or inability to establish goals
  • Outside work pressures
  • Parenting responsibility

As a Faculty or Staff Member, You Can Help!

Students experiencing distress may turn to you for help, due to your position, status and visibility on campus. You may also find yourself in a situation where a distressed student needs assistance. Your response in these situations could significantly impact the student’s ability to deal constructively with her or his problems.

There are specific guidelines you can use to help students get the assistance they need.

  • Recognizing Distressed Students

  • What You Can Do (Intervention)

  • Referring to Counseling and Psychological Services

  • What Happens When a Student Visits Counseling and Psychological Services

  • How to Follow Up After a Referral