Students in Distress

It is important to be able to distinguish among typical classroom disruptions, dangerous classroom situations and students who are in distress.


University Counseling Services  – 410-455-2472

University Police – 410-455-5555  *call if the student appears to be a danger to self/others

One-page guide on recognizing symptoms of distress from UCS (pdf)

Workshops on recognizing individuals in distress from the Division of Student Affairs. See the Calendar for upcoming workshops.

UMBC Wellness Initiative

The following information is taken from the by the UCS website.


We all recognize that emotional distress is an expected part of a college student’s experience, whether the source is academic, personal, social, family, or financial. Some students are able to cope effectively, with little adverse impact on their academics or social life, while others struggle to varying degrees. Due to your presence on campus and the amount of interaction you have with students, you are in a good position to recognize those students who exhibit troubled behavior. While it’s certainly impossible to notice and assist all of them, being observant and showing that you are concerned can go a long way toward helping a struggling student. Keep in mind that UMBC Counseling Services can provide assistance to you in the form of a phone or in-person consultation and as a referral source you can give to the student.

What to look for:

  • extreme shifts in behavior (i.e., drop in academic performance)
  • changes in personal hygiene
  • disruptive behavior
  • excessively anxious when called upon
  • avoiding participation
  • excessive absences/tardiness
  • heightened anxiety/worrying
  • pessimism about the future
  • dramatic weight gain/loss
  • unexplained crying
  • impaired speech or confused thoughts

What you can do:

  • talk to the student privately
  • show interest and concern
  • avoid criticism/judgment
  • consult with UCS (410-455-2472)
  • refer the student to UCS
  • escort the student to UCS

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