Recognizing and Responding to Students in Distress

As members of a concerned and caring campus community, we all play a vital role in contributing to the safety and well-being of our students. Maine Maritime Academy has a variety of support services in place, but there are also actions that we can take in our daily exchanges that provide support, help and direction to those in need. The following information can be helpful in identifying students in distress and what you can do to respond in a manner that provides help and support to those in need.

No question is too big or too small to ask. If you have concerns please ask questions and/or seek consultation as opposed to minimizing your concerns.


Identifying Students in Distress

Academic indicators:

  1. Repeated absences
  2. Missed assignment, exams and/or appointments
  3. Deterioration in quality of work
  4. Extreme disorganization or erratic performance
  5. Written/artistic expression of violence, morbidity, despair or confusion, death or suicide
  6. Continual seeking of special provisions such as make-up exams, extensions on assignments
  7. Overblown or disproportionate response to grades and evaluations

Behavioral and emotional indicators:

  1. Direct statements indicating distress, relationship difficulties/break-up or loss
  2. Preoccupation with death or suicide
  3. Angry or hostile outbursts, aggressive behavior
  4. More withdrawn or overly animated than in past
  5. Expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness, tearful
  6. Expressions of severe anxiety or irritability
  7. Excessively demanding or dependent behavior
  8. Lack of response to outreach from instructors or other staff
  9. Shakiness, tremors, pacing

Physical indicators:

  1. Deterioration in physical appearance or personal hygiene
  2. Deterioration in maintenance of room/apartment
  3. Excessive fatigue, exhaustion: falling asleep in class frequently
  4. Visible changes in weight, statements about appetite or sleep
  5. Noticeable cuts, bruises or burns
  6. Frequent or chronic illness
  7. Disorganized, rapid or slurred speech
  8. Inability to make eye contact
  9. Coming to class fatigued or smelling of alcohol
  10. Violent behaviors in or out of class
  11. Direct or veiled threats of harm

Other factors:

  1. Concern expressed by co-worker, student, peer, etc.
  2. Hunch or gut level reaction that something is not right
  3. Physical or verbal aggression directed at self or others
  4. Statements that person will be going away for a long time

Responding to students in distress

Your level of experience, the nature and severity of the issue, your ability to give time to the situation, and other factors will influence how you decide to respond.

  1. Respond yourself – If you have a relationship with the student express concern in person, or by email.
  2. Call Counseling Services @ 207-326-2644 or email at to discuss your concerns about the student or to make a referral for services.
  3. File a “Student of Concern” report where you can specify your concerns for the student. The report will be reviewed by the SEA Team (Student Early Assessment), chaired by Dean Deidra Davis (207-326-2138), and routed to the appropriate department for follow-up
  4. In an emergency call Campus Safety @ 207-326-2479

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