Student Services Behavioral Intervention

Responding to Students of Concern

Responding to Students of Concern- What You Can Do to Help a Distressed Student


College years can be a stressful time for students.  Emotional distress can not only have an impact on a student's mental and physical well-being, but can interfere with their academic performance as well.  You may be the first to recognize that something is wrong because of amount of contact you have with the student.  You are in an excellent position to identify and respond to distressed students.

Levels of Distress/Disturbance: The "D" Scale


Distress (Mild Risk)– If a student is 'distressed', one or more of the following may be accurate:

  • The student may be: emotionally troubled;
  • Individuals impacted by situation stressors  and traumatic events;
  • May be psychiatrically symptomatic

Disturbance (Elevated Risk) – If a student is 'disturbed', one or more of the following may be accurate:

  • The student may be: behaviorally disruptive, unusual and/or bizarre acting;
  • Destructive, apparently harmful to others;
  • Substance abusing

Dysregulation (Extreme Risk) – If a student is 'dysregulated', one or more of the following may be accurate:

  • The student may be: suicidal;
  • Parasuicidal (extremes of self-harming behavior; eating disorders);
  • Engaging in risk taking behaviors (substance abuse);
  • Hostile, aggressive or relationally abusive;
  • Deficient in skills that regulate emotion, cognition, self, behavior and relationships

Threat Assessment in the Campus Setting, January 2009 – A Publication of NaBITA.org