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Recognizing Students in Distress

At one time or another everyone feels upset or distressed. However, there are three levels of
concern which, when present over a period of time, suggest that the problems are outside the
norm. It is important to consider each type of behavior in context for the individual in question.
 
The “D Scale” is a way to measure and assess mental health related risks.

Distress

The student is emotionally troubled (e.g. depressed, manic, unstable).
You may observe these behaviors:
  • Changes in academic performance in the classroom
  • Scores on exams significantly drop
  • Changes in pattern of interaction
  • Changes in physical appearance
  • Problems concentrating, remembering things, or making decisions

Disturbance

The student has increasingly disturbing behavior.
You may observe these behaviors:

  • Repeating requests for special consideration
  • New or regularly occurring behavior which may interfere with class management or be disruptive to other students or college employees
  • Unusual or exaggerated emotional responses (venting, screaming, swearing)
  • Persistent sadness or unexplained crying
  • High levels of irritability or inappropriate excitement
  • Vague threats to self or others; demanding, verbally abusive, or intimidating behavior
  • Substance misuse and/or abuse

Dysregulation

The student is deficient in skills that regulate emotion, cognition, self, behavior, and relationships.
You may observe these behaviors:

  • Statements related to death or dying or feelings of hopelessness
  • Direct threats of harming self or others
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Display of a weapon
  • Inability to communicate easily
  • Irrational conversation or speech that seems disconnected
  • Loss of contact with reality (seeing/hearing things that are not there, beliefs or actions at odds with reality)
  • Suspiciousness, irrational feelings of persecution or paranoia
  • Sends threatening correspondence

Use your best judgment and report an individual in need to the BIT.