The purpose of this resource guide is to help you recognize symptoms of student distress and identify appropriate referrals to campus resources.
Aggies THINK, CARE, ACT
USU faculty and staff are in a unique position to demonstrate compassion for USU students in distress.
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 difficulties coping and other serious consequences.
You may be the first person to notice signs indicating a student is in distress. THINK: Has your student displayed academic, psychological, physical, or safety risk indicators? Have you noticed any changes in a student’s performance or behavior?
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.
Show you CARE about your students by speaking up if someone leaves you worried, alarmed, or threatened. Trust your instincts.
Sometimes students cannot or will not turn to family or friends. ACT!
Your expression of concern may be a critical factor in saving a student's academic career or even their life.
- Sudden decline in quality of work and grades
- Repeated absences
- Disturbing content in writing or presentations (e.g., violence, death)
- You find yourself doing more personal rather than academic counseling
- Marked changes in physical appearance including deterioration in grooming, hygiene, or weight loss/gain
- Excessive fatigue/sleep disturbance
- Intoxication, hangovers, or smelling of alcohol
- Disoriented or "out of it"
Safety Risk Indicators
- 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 ideations, violent behaviors
- Self-disclosure of personal distress that could include family problems, financial difficulties, depression, grief, or thoughts of suicide
- Excessive tearfulness, panic reactions, irritability, or unusual apathy
- Verbal abuse (e.g., taunting, badgering, intimidation)
- Expressions of concern about the student by his/her/their peers
A student whose conduct is clearly and imminently reckless, disorderly, dangerous, or threatening, including self-harmful behavior.
TO GET HELP OR REPORT AN INCIDENT
If you are concerned for your own or others’ safety due to a student’s threatening behavior,
At Logan - USU Police at
AT USU Eastern - Police in Price at
AT USU Blanding -
San Juan County Dispatch at
At Statewide Campuses
- call 911 followed by USU Police at
A student with persistent behaviors such as:
- Overly anxious
- Lacks motivation and/or concentration
- Seeks constant attention
- Demonstrates bizarre or erratic behavior
- Expresses suicidal thoughts
988 offers 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress. That could be:
- Thoughts of suicide
- Mental health or substance use crisis, or
- Any other kind of emotion distress
988 serves as a universal entry point so that no matter where you live in the United States, you can reach a trained crisis counselor who can help.
IF A STUDENT IS CAUSING DISRUPTION BUT DOES NOT POSE A THREAT
If you believe there is a safety risk, call 911, or if in Logan contact USU Police.
- Ensure your safety in the environment.
- Use a calm, non-confrontational approach to diffuse/de-escalate the situation.
- Set limits by explaining how the behavior is inappropriate.
- If the disruptive behavior persists, notify the student that disciplinary action may be taken. Ask the student to leave. Inform the student that refusal to leave may be a separate violation subject to discipline.
- Immediately report the incident to the appropriate resource.
RESOURCES & TIPS
Engage students early on. Pay attention to signs of distress and set limits on disruptive behavior.
Don’t be afraid to ask students directly if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, feeling confused, or having thoughts of harming themselves or others.
LISTEN SENSITIVELY AND CAREFULLY
Use a non-confrontational approach and a calm voice. Avoid threatening, humiliating, and intimidating responses.
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 the student to the physical location of the identified resource.
CONSULTATION AND DOCUMENTATION
Always document your interactions with distressed students and consult with your department chair/supervisor after any incident.