Recognizing Distress

The CARE Team is not tasked with responding to emergencies. If this is an emergency and you are in need of immediate assistance contact CSUSB Police (909) 537-5165 or dial 911.

Everyone can feel distressed or upset at one time or another. The following lists warning signs which, when present over a period of time, suggest a more significant level of distress. We suggest that you do not focus on one item or a specific set of items, instead if you observe these behaviors in an individual and it is concerning to you, refer the incident/individual to the CARE Team for follow up and assessment.

Marked Change in Academic/Work Performance or Behavior

  • Change in classroom/work performance such as a drop in grades or productivity
  • Deterioration in quality of work and preparation
  • Excessive or repeated absences or tardiness
  • Missed or late assignments or appointments
  • Erratic or disorganized participation or performance
  • Avoiding participation or excessively anxious when called upon in class or meetings
  • Dominating discussions
  • Disruptive behavior during class or meetings

Unusual or Dramatic Shifts in Behavior or Appearance

  • Dramatic change in energy level, positive or negative
  • Dramatic changes in weight, lost or gained
  • Persistent sadness and/or frequent tearfulness
  • Lethargic, falling asleep in class or at their desk
  • Hyperactivity, very rapid speech, or inflated sense of self
  • Exaggerated emotional response that is obviously inappropriate to the situation
  • Deterioration in personal hygiene or dress
  • Strange or bizarre behavior indicating loss of contact with reality
  • Incoherent speech or writing
  • Inability to focus their eyes when having a conversation
  • Obvious alcohol or drug abuse or intoxication
  • Noticeable cuts, bruises or bandages
  • Excessive dependency on you or other individuals
  • Social isolation from friends, family and/or classmates or roommates

Interpersonal Behavior

  • Lacks social connections or friends
  • Exhibits social withdrawal and/or isolation
  • Is frequently angry, exhibits loss of temper on a daily basis
  • Is verbally hostile, combative or abusive
  • Fails to acknowledge or consider the feelings or thoughts of others
  • Consistently shows lack of respect for the property of others
  • Demonstrates intolerance for differences and/or prejudicial attitudes
  • Expresses frequent feelings of rejection or being alone
  • Reports having been previously victimized or bullied
  • Reports being currently picked on or persecuted

Reported Life Stressors

  • Problems with roommates, family, or romantic partners
  • Disruption in their support system(s)
  • Experiencing the death of a significant other (including a pet)
  • Experiencing a physical or sexual assault
  • Experiencing discrimination based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disabilities
  • Experiencing legal difficulties
  • Any problem or situation, whether real or imagined, that is experienced as a loss, disappointment, failure, humiliation, or other stressor (job, finances, housing, relationships, etc.)

References to Suicide, Homicide or Death

  • Essays or projects that express themes of hopelessness, isolation, rage or despair
  • Expressed feelings of helplessness or inability to cope
  • Verbal or written references to, or threats of, suicide
  • Verbal or written references to, or threats of, destructive or assaultive behavior or homicide

Other Behavior

  • Expresses frustration in inappropriate ways
  • Acts impulsively, often without considering consequences
  • Shows Increased risk-taking
  • Is fascinated with weapons (guns, knives, etc.) and/or death
  • Is involved in physical fights, pushing or shoving
  • Commits acts of vandalism or destruction of property
  • Expresses violence or themes of violence in writings or drawings
  • Verbalizes threats of violence or plans for hurting people or causing damage to property
  • Has a history of discipline problems or frequent run-ins with authority
  • Has a history of violent and/or aggressive behavior

This information adapted from resources of CSU Long Beach CARES, and Cal Poly Pomona: PolyCares. Thank you for collaboration as a CSU system to help protect our students.