Assisting the Emotionally Distressed Student

As a member of the UC Hastings campus community, you may be constantly interacting with students. At times, you will have contact with students whose problems or behaviors will cause you concern, discomfort, or may interfere with your work or the education of other students. These kinds of people or situations do not just disappear, and without intervention you may well be faced with that same situation and that same student again. 

Certain signals that distressed students give out may go unnoticed for a variety of reasons. And even when we do notice them, it can be very difficult to intervene. We may feel we are “in over our heads,” or we may have competing concerns, such as other students waiting to see us. It is important to know that it is quite likely that the problem will not go away unless there is an intervention. Part of a good intervention requires knowing how to act during these incidents and what resources to call upon.  

As a faculty or staff member interacting daily with students, you are in an excellent position to recognize behavior changes that characterize the emotionally troubled student. A student’s behavior, especially if it is inconsistent with your previous observations, could well constitute a “cry for help.”  

This “tool kit” is adapted from UC Berkeley’s existing “toolkit” and was created to help you and your department when these difficult occasions arise. It offers straightforward advice, techniques and suggestions on how to cope with, intervene, and assist troubled and/or difficult students in or out of the classroom. 

A Guide to Assisting the Emotionally Distressed Student