Student Wellness Services

Queen's University
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Student Wellness Services

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Recognizing Distress

Woman in the background with her hand on her forehead. In the foreground is a stack of books. This image represents stress.

How can we recognize and respond effectively to students in distress?
What to look for in students:

  • Significant changes in academic performance, including deterioration in quality of work, frequent missed assignments, excessive procrastination, or avoidance of classroom participation.
  • Increased class absences or tardiness.
  • Listlessness, lack of energy, of falling asleep in class.
  • Unusual or bizarre behaviours, including explained crying, laughing to self, very rapid speech, disorganized thinking, suspiciousness.
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain.
  • Complaints about physical symptoms, including nausea, stomach aches, headaches, or problems with eating or sleeping.
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene or dress.
  • Direct or indirect references to suicide or intention to harm or kill another person.
  • Changes or disturbances in personal relationships.
  • Visible signs of anxiety or depressed mood.
  • Talking explicitly about hopelessness or suicide.
  • Difficulty concentrating, difficulty carrying on normal conversation.
  • Social isolation, social withdrawal or excessive dependency on Dons, Professors, or TA's.
  • Excessive sleeping, internet use/gaming.
  • Significant changes in personal, sexual, or cultural identity.