Recognising distress

When a student is experiencing difficulty, staff, family or friends are often the first to notice. If we can recognise the signs of acute emotional distress, suicidal thoughts or self-harm behaviours, we can help the student receive the support they need to cope.

Students may be distressed for many reasons, including:

  • study stress
  • relationship difficulties
  • poor health
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • trauma
  • grief.

Distress may be indicated by:

  • avoidance
  • tearfulness
  • deterioration in appearance
  • disturbing emails or assessment items
  • increased tension
  • reduced motivation
  • self-harm behaviour
  • thoughts of suicide.

When responding to a student in distress, it is important to acknowledge their distress. Acknowledging the distress in a calm and concerned manner can help the student receive appropriate and timely support.