Introduction

As students adjust to college and develop personal identities, they typically experience some fluctuation in mood, academic performance, and behavior. However, abrupt or prolonged shifts in attitude and/or behavior may indicate significant signs of distress. If you notice any of the following warning signs, we recommend that you talk to your student about your concerns and about available resources.

Talking to a Student about Your Concern

Many faculty or staff find that they are concerned or worriedabout a student, but are uncertain, lack confidence, or are fearful about having a conversation with a student about their concerns. The Kognito for Faculty and Staff platform is an online training that uses interactive simulations to help you learn about how to have these kinds of conversations with students.

Spotting Concerns

Academic Concerns

Academic Concerns

  • uncharacteristically poor work
  • difficulty concentrating and/or staying organized
  • difficulty completing tasks/assignments
  • excessive absences

Interpersonal Concerns

Interpersonal Concerns

  • isolation from family and friends
  • fear of social situations
  • extreme defensiveness and/or irritability
  • inappropriate responses/disjointed thoughts
  • difficulty getting along with others

Behavioral Concerns

Behavioral Concerns

  • difficulty completing activities of daily living or changes in hygiene
  • changes in eating patterns
  • changes in sleeping patterns (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, sleeping excessively)
  • intense, dramatic, or volatile expressions of emotion
  • loss of interest in pleasurable activities/general apathy
  • self-harming behaviors (e.g. cutting self)
  • lethargy/low energy
  • excessive drug or alcohol use
  • frequent crying
  • panic attacks/extreme anxiety
  • homicidal or suicidal statements
  • expressed hopelessness
  • extreme pessimism

Physical Health Concerns

Physical Health Concerns

  • frequent headaches
  • recurring colds and minor illnesses
  • frequent muscle aches
  • persistent fatigue

Tips for Communicating Concern to your Student

  • Familiarize yourself with resources available at UAB.
  • Talk to your student privately. Share your observations and express your concern. Be direct and specific.
  • Ask open-ended questions to understand your student’s point of view. Avoid judgment, minimization, or advice-giving. Remember, you don’t have to solve your student’s problems; rather, steer them in the appropriate direction.
  • Normalize your student’s experience; if possible, remind your student that they are not alone and do not need to go through problems alone.
  • Discuss available services/resources and encourage your student to seek support.
  • Make a firm plan for when and how your student is going to contact the identified service. Ask how you can support your student.
  • Instill hope; and encourage help-seeking behavior.
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