Student Distress

Significant distress disrupts a student’s ability to…

  • Work (academic or employment)
  • Engage in relationships
  • Complete routine activities

Common signs of distress you may observe in your students

  1. Changes in school performance
  2. Lack of attendance or excessive lingering
  3. Disruptive or “strange” behavior
  4. Changes in speech—very fast or very low energy
  5. Confusing comments or stories
  6. Marked intolerance for differences or prejudice
  7. Inappropriate interactions (through email, by phone, or in person)
  8. Changes in overall energy level
  9. Mood changes
  10. Physical appearance/hygiene concerns
  11. Repeated or severe signs of substance misuse
  12. Severe sleep disturbance (falling asleep in class)
  13. Self-report of distress or crisis
  14. Expressed intent to harm self or others

If signs are recognized, it may be time to have a conversation with the student. Please remember:

  • Asking questions demonstrates caring
  • Trust your intuition, err in favor of asking
  • Be prepared to hear a student’s story
    • Save time for this
    • Some privacy

When inquiry confirms your concerns, "help” may be in form of:

  • Further discussions with you...
    • If you feel comfortable in a helping role with this student.
    • If you feel prepared, capable of helping with their problem.
  • Referral to someone/office better trained and prepared to meet the student’s needs.

When to Refer

  1. The problem feels too much for you to deal with.
  2. You know the student in a non-professional way.
  3. You don’t feel you will be of help to them.
  4. The student seems hesitant to talk with you about it.
  5. The student asks for a referral.


For urgent situations, including concerns about a missing student, call MUPD (513-529-2222).

*When in doubt, call MUPD (513-529-2222).

During the pandemic, students have experienced a learning disruption like never before. Your students' academic preparedness and readiness is likely to range more than past years. You can also expect a lower level of help-seeking behaviors.

You can be there for your students by recognizing signs of distress and connecting them to the appropriate resource.

Faculty Resources for Student Support - Oxford Campus


Faculty Resources for Student Support - Regionals