Assisting Students In Distress

See Something, Say Something, Do Something

See Something

A&T University faculty and staff are in a unique position to demonstrate compassion for students in distress. You may even be the first person to SEE SOMETHING distressing in your student since you have frequent and prolonged contact with them.

Both undergraduate and graduate students may feel alone, isolated and even hopeless when faced with academic and life challenges. These feelings can easily disrupt academic performance and may lead to difficulty coping and other serious consequences.

Say something

Students exhibiting troubling behaviors in your presence are likely having difficulties in various settings including the classroom, with roommates, with family, and even in social settings.

Trust your instincts and SAY SOMETHING if a student leaves you feeling worried, alarmed, or threatened!

Do Something

Sometimes students cannot or will not turn to family or friends. DO SOMETHING! Your expression of concern may be a critical fact or in saving a student's academic career or even their life.

Disruptive Students

A student whose conduct is clearly and imminently reckless, disorderly, dangerous or threatening, including self harmful behavior. If you are concerned for your own or other's safety due to a student's disruptive behavior, call 911 or University Police Department 336-334-7675. Report incident to University Police Department or Dean of Students if outside of class.

If a student is causing a disruption but does not pose a threat:

  • Ensure your safety in the environment
  • Use a calm, non-confrontational approach to defuse/de-escalate the situation. If additional support is needed, call University Police Department 336-334-7675
  • If the disruptive behavior persists, notify the student that they may be asked to leave. Inform them that refusal to leave may be a separate violation subject to disciplinary action.
  • Immediately report the incident to the Office of Academic Affairs

Distressed Students

  • Overly anxious
  • Sad
  • Irritable
  • Overly anxious
  • Lacks motivation and/or concentration
  • Sad
  • Irritable
  • Seeks constant attention
  • Withdrawn
  • Demonstrates bizarre or erratic behavior
  • Confused
  • Expresses suicidal thoughts

Who To Contact When Faced With A Distressed or Distressing Student

Call University Police Department at 336-334-7675 if:

The student's conduct is clearly and imminently reckless, disorderly, dangerous or threatening self harm behavior.

Call Counseling Services at 336-334-7727 or visit Murphy Hall Suite 109 if:

The student shows signs of distress but I am unsure of how serious it is. My interaction has left me feeling uneasy and/or really concerned about the student

Refer student to appropriate campus resources if:

I'm not concerned for the student's immediate safety but they are having significant academic and/or personal issues and could use some support

Indicators of Distress

  • Sudden decline in quality of work and grades
  • Repeat absences
  • Disturbing content in writing or presentations (e.g., violence and death)
  • You find yourself doing more personal rather than academic counseling during office hours
  • Continuous classroom disruptions

  • Self-disclosure of personal distress that could include family problems, financial difficulties, depression, grief, or thoughts of self harm/suicide
  • Excessive tearfulness panic reactions, irritability or unusual apathy
  • Verbal abuse (e.g. taunting, badgering, intimidation)
  • Expressions of concern about the student by their peers

  • Marked changes in physical appearance including deterioration in grooming, hygiene, or weight loss/gain
  • Excessive fatigue/sleep disturbances
  • Intoxication, hangovers, or smelling of alcohol
  • Disoriented or "out of it"

  • Unprovoked anger or hostility
  • Making implied or direct threats to harm self or others
  • Academic assignments dominated by themes of extreme hopelessness, rage, worthlessness, isolation, despair, acting out, suicidal ideation/violent behavior

Resources and Tips

Engage students early on, pay attention to signs of distress, and set limits on disruptive behavior.

Don't be afraid to ask the student directly if they are feeling confused or having thoughts of harming themselves or others.

Use a non-confrontational approach and a calm voice.

The welfare of the campus community is the top priority when a student
displays threatening or potentially violent behavior. Do not hesitate to call for help.

Direct and/ or walk with the student to the physical location of the identified resource. Reach out to the student later to check in and demonstrate your commitment to them and their safety/wellbeing.

Always document your interactions with distressed students and consult with your department chair or supervisor after any incident. When documenting, use direct quotes when possible and provide as much detail as you can.