Student getting help from the OIT help desk in the UC

Tips for Recognizing Troubled Students

At one time or another everyone feels upset or distressed. However, there are three levels of student distress which, when present over a period of time, suggest that the problems are more than the "normal" ones.

Three Levels of Student Distress

Level 1

  • Changes in academic performance in the classroom
  • Significant drop in examination scores
  • Change in pattern of interaction
  • Changes in physical appearance
  • Problems concentrating and remembering things or making decisions

Level 2

  • Repeated request for special consideration
  • New or regularly occurring behavior which pushes the limits and may interfere with class management or be disruptive to other students, faculty or staff
  • Unusual or exaggerated emotional responses
  • Persistent sadness or unexplained crying
  • High levels of irritability or inappropriate excitement

Level 3

  • Highly disturbed behavior
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Inability to communicate clearly
  • Irrational conversation or speech that seems disconnected
  • Loss of contact with reality (seeing/hearing things that are not there, beliefs or actions at odds with reality)
  • Suspiciousness, irrational feelings of persecution
  • Statements related to death or dying or feelings of hopelessness
  • Threats of harming self or harming others

What Can You Do To Help?

  • Talk to the student in private when you both have time
  • Express your concern in non-judgmental terms
  • Listen to the student and repeat the gist of what the student is saying
  • Identify options available to the student
  • Clarify the costs and benefits of each option for handling the problem from the student's point of view
  • Respect the student's value system
  • Ask if the student is considering suicide
  • Make appropriate referrals if necessary
  • Make sure the student understands what action is necessary and make plans to follow-up with the student on this action

When to Refer a Student to BIT?

  • When a student's behavior goes beyond the normal classroom disturbances and appears distressed, you can contact the BIT for assistance. We will evaluate the circumstances and determine the appropriate plan of action for the student.
  • To refer a student to the BIT, you can contact any BIT representative with the name of the student and a brief narrative of their behavior. If you are concerned about a student, but have not witnessed any distressing or disruptive behavior, please explain your concern in detail.
  • The BIT meets weekly throughout the year, and will review your referral at the next meeting. If a situation requires immediate attention, an emergency BIT meeting can be called at the determination of a BIT chair. All the representatives will have the opportunity to investigate any other information available about the student through their appropriate discipline prior to the meeting. Be assured that the BIT exists to care for our students, and will handle your referral in a professional manner in an effort to best meet the needs of the UTA community and our students.

  • Complete BIT Referral

    Responding to Suicidal Concerns

    When a student makes any reference to suicide, threat of suicide, or attempt at suicide, a judgment should be made by a mental health professional about the seriousness of a possible suicidal thought or behavior. Suicide attempts are first and foremost a medical emergency. If danger or suicidal behavior appears imminent:

    2) Contact Campus Police at 817-272-3003 or dial 911.



    Question the person about suicide

    Persuade the person to get help

    Refer for help