Recognizing Signs of Struggle
Friends, roommates, teachers and advisors are often the first to recognize a student’s emotional difficulties. Signs can include:
- Anxiety: excessive worry, panic attacks, avoidance.
- Depression: crying, hopelessness, low self-esteem, excessive guilt.
- Missing classes; neglecting schoolwork, jobs, extracurricular activities.
- Social isolation
- Extreme moods
- Changes in behavior or appearance.
- Alcohol or drug problems.
- Dangerous activities
- Referring to death or suicide in conversation, jokes, writings, posts.
How You Can Help
When a student shows any of the signs listed above:
- Take the signs seriously – don’t assume you are overreacting.
- Ask to talk to the student – arrange for a private conversation.
- Point out the specific signs you’ve noticed. Say you are concerned.
- Listen closely. Don’t judge, give advice or try to cheer up the student.
- If a struggling student is not seeing a professional, recommend CWC.
- If the student raises objections, gently explain: counseling is not a sign of being weak or crazy, but rather a healthy response to problems.
- If the student is not in crisis, let the student decide about counseling. Your words were not wasted. Sometimes students reject help at first but pursue counseling later.
- Do not be sworn to secrecy if the student is in crisis. Say you need to inform someone to make sure they are safe.
- If the situation is an emergency or crisis (i.e., immediate suicidal urges or other self-destructive behavior), immediately call CWC (212.774.0700), the Vice President for Student Affairs (212.774.0750), Residence Life (212.774.0740) or Campus Safety (212.517.0411).
CWC can consult with faculty, staff and students who want to discuss concerns about a student. Call CWC to schedule a meeting with a clinician or come to drop-in hours (weekdays 3-4pm). Please remember that information about student clients is confidential and will not be disclosed in consultations.