OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Recognizing Troubled Students

The Disruptive Student

This group of students tends to be immature, manipulative, or engage in disorderly conduct in and out of class.  Causes for the behavior may or may not be due to emotional distress.  The best resource for them may be the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (541-737-3656) rather than counseling.  Just and fair conduct measures that hold the student accountable for behaviors that violate campus or community standards are often just what the student needs to regain self-control and to have a positive developmental outcome.

The Distressed Student

At one time or another, everyone experiences stress and discomfort.  Although it’s not unusual to feel anxious, depressed, or confused, these feelings become significant when they are recurrent or extreme. 

Recognizing Emotional Distress

  • Depressed mood: Reduced participation; inflated or manic mood (being excessively active and talkative, easily distracted, pressured speech, racing thoughts); swollen, red eyes; marked changes in personal hygiene; falling asleep in class.
  • Inability to communicate clearly: garbled, slurred, disjointed, or incoherent speech.
  • Loss of contact with reality: seeing/hearing things which aren’t there; beliefs or actions greatly at odds with reality or probability.
  • Overtly talking or hinting of suicidal thoughts or intentions (referring to suicide as a current and viable option).
  • Highly disruptive behavior: hostile, threatening, violent; withdrawal into the corner of the room or a fetal position.
  • Homicidal threats.

Although the following characteristics are less severe, they may also indicate emotional distress.

  • Repeated requests for special consideration, such as deadline extensions, especially if the student appears uncomfortable or highly emotional disclosing the circumstances prompting the request
  • Behavior that pushes the limits of decorum and interferes with the effective management of the environment
  • Unusual or exaggerated emotional responses
  • Withdrawal from activities or friends.
  • Significant changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Serious grade problems or a change from consistently good grades to unaccountable poor performance
  • Excessive absences, especially if the student had previously demonstrated consistent class attendance.
  • Perfectionism, procrastination, or excessive worrying
  • Markedly changed patterns of interaction (totally avoiding participation, excessive anxiety when called upon, dominating discussions)

 

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