Signs of a Problem

As parents and family members, you may have an important perspective on how your student may be adjusting or functioning at the university. Though you may or may not have daily face to face contact with them, you still know them very well, and know when they are not functioning at their best. Your student’s behavior, especially if it is inconsistent with your previous observations, could be a sign that your student is struggling and needs help.

Signs suggesting a student may be in distress


  • Not attending classes
  • Increased dependence on a faculty/staff member Excessive procrastination
  • Uncharacteristically poor school work
  • Inconsistent school work
  • Repeated requests to a professor for special consideration
  • Repeated confiding in faculty/staff about personal problems
  • Worrisome or unusually personal content presented verbally or in written assignments
  • Excessive worry or apathy about school work
  • Feeling overwhelmed with academic demands

Behavioral (what you observe):

  • Significant change in physical appearance (e.g., poor grooming or hygiene, excessive change in weight)
  • Change in behavior or style of relating
  • Excessive energy (e.g., loud tone of voice, high level of activity, rapid speech)
  • Inability to focus in a conversation or activity
  • Thinking or speech that is disorganized, difficult to follow, or aggressive
  • Strong mistrust of other people
  • Violent or aggressive outbursts
  • Irritable, sad, or depressed mood
  • Reference to suicide or homicide (verbally or in written communication; direct or indirect)
  • Threatening to others
  • Inappropriate responses and/or display of intense emotion
  • Slurred speech, unsteady gate, or other indications of substance use

Student’s Experience (what is reported to you):

  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Excessive alcohol or drug use and/or an increase in substance use
  • Tearfulness, irritability, excessive sadness
  • Isolating or increased anti-social behaviors
  • Engaging in high risk behaviors (e.g., driving recklessly, engaging in risky sexual behavior, thrill seeking)
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Difficulty concentrating or feeling motivated
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Inability to relax
  • High anxiety or restlessness
  • Suicidal or homicidal thinking or behavior

If you would like to discuss any concerns or questions that you have about your student, please contact the Counseling Center 508- 626-4640 and we will be happy to assist you.