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Student Wellness

Recognizing signs of distress in students

Student Wellness Service Team supports our faculty and staff in supporting students! 

The following are common early signs of distress in students:

  • Behavioral or emotional changes
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Social withdrawal
  • Change in hygiene or appearance
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Decline in academic performance
  • Excessive or inappropriate anger
  • Bizarre thoughts or behaviors

Often, our reactions to the student’s behaviors are also signals that the student may need professional assistance. These reactions may include:

  • Feeling alarmed or frightened
  • Feeling uncomfortable about student’s comments or behavior
  • Concern about student’s ability to function

Encouraging and helping the student to seek assistance with appropriate campus and community resources are key.  

When talking to students about seeking help:


  • Speak with the student privately
  • Remain calm
  • Describe the behaviours that concern you
  • Show concern and interest
  • Advise student to contact (call, email, or go directly to the office) Student Wellness Counsellor for service screening 
  • In some situations, encourage the student to call for an appointment from your office
  • Seek consultation (with student consent in advance if student’s personal data will be disclosed, otherwise, general advice on how to best handle similar situation can be offered)
  • Seek support for yourself after assisting the student


  • Tolerate rudeness
  • Assume the role of therapist/counsellor (unless trained)
  • Remain in a situation that feels unsafe
  • Critique the student
  • Ignore a feeling that something is not right
  • Assume someone else has intervened with the student