Skip to main content

Faculty/Staff Reference to Assist Students in Distress

Indicators of Distress: what to look for

Academic Indicators

  • Sudden decline in quality of work and grades
  • Repeated absences
  • Disorganized performance
  • Multiple requests for extensions
  • Overly demanding of faculty and staff time and attention
  • Bizarre content in writings or presentations
  • You find yourself doing more personal rather than academic counseling during office hours

Physical Indicators

  • Marked changes in physical appearance including deterioration in grooming, hygiene, or weight loss/gain
  • Excessive fatigue/sleep disturbance
  • Intoxication, hangovers, or smelling of alcohol
  • Disoriented or “out of it”
  • Garbled, tangential, disconnected, or slurred speech
  • Behavior is out of context or bizarre
  • Delusions and paranoia

Psychological Indicators

  • Self-disclosure of personal distress such as family problems, financial difficulties, contemplating suicide, grief
  • Unusual / disproportional emotional response to events
  • Excessive tearfulness, panic reactions
  • Irritability or unusual apathy
  • Verbal abuse (e.g., taunting, badgering, intimidation)
  • Expressions of concern about the student by his/her peers

Safety Risk Indicators

  • Unprovoked anger or hostility
  • Physical violence (shoving, grabbing, assault, use of weapon)
  • Implying or making a direct threat to harm self or others
  • Academic assignments dominated by themes of extreme hopelessness, rage, worthlessness, isolation, despair, acting out, suicidal intentions / violent behaviors -- a “cry for help”
  • Stalking or harassing
  • Communicating threats via email, correspondence, texting or phone calls

resources and information

  • Safety First: The welfare of the campus community is the top priority when a student displays threatening or potentially violent behavior. Do not hesitate to call for help.
  • Listen Sensitively and Carefully: Use a nonconfrontational approach, and a calm voice. Avoid threatening, humiliating, and intimidating responses.
  • Be Proactive: Engage students early on, setting limits on disruptive behavior. Be Direct: Don't be afraid to ask students directly if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, feeling confused, or having thoughts of harming themselves or others.
  • Follow Through: Direct the student to the physical location of the identified resource.
  • Consultation & Documentation: Always document your interactions with distressed students and consult with your department chair/supervisor after any incident.


Campus Resources for Students

Vice President for Student Affairs Office and the Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT): (435) 797-3137
For consultation about students of concern and for help connecting students to counseling or other resources

Counseling and Psychological Services: (435) 797-1012,
Counseling and Psychological Contact Page

USU Police Department: Emergency 911 - (435) 797-1939 (from cell phone)
USU Police Department Website
For concerns about students who may pose an immediate danger to hurt self or others

USU Health & Wellness Center: (435) 797-1660
For medical and psychiatric care.

Off Campus Resources

Logan Police Department Non-Emergency: (435) 753-7555,
For off-campus concerns about safety and well-being

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK (8255)
For immediate, confidential crisis support and intervention

Logan Regional Hospital: (435) 716-1000
This is the closest hospital and ER to campus, located at 500 E 1400 N, Logan, UT 84341.

Campus Protocol - Who to Contact

Is the student a danger to
him/herself or others or for any reason;
Does the student need immediate assistance?


The Student's conduct is clearly and imminently reckless, disorderly, dangerous, or threatening--including self-harm.

Action - Call 911 or USU Police at (435) 797-1939 or Logan City Police / Cache County Sheriff at (435) 753-7555.

I'm Not Sure

The Student shows signs of distress, but I am unsure how serious it is. My interaction has left me feeling uneasy and/or really concerned about the student.

A) To speak with someone for a timely consultation:

During Business Hours:
Call the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, or Student Conduct at (435) 797-3137.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at (435) 797-1012
After Hours & Holidays call the USU Police (435) 753-3137

B) For coordinated campus response:

Please submit a Student of Concern report to the Behavioral Intervention Team For consultation, call (435) 797-3137


I am not concerned for the student's immediate safety, but he/she is having significant academic and/or personal issues and could use some support

Refer student to appropriate campus resource. See above panel for options. For a complete list see the official student handbook


USU faculty/staff and graduate teaching/research assistants are in a unique position to demonstrate compassion for USU students in distress.

Both undergraduate and graduate students may feel alone, isolated, and even hopeless when faced with academic and life challenges. These feelings can easily disrupt academic performance and may lead to dysfunctional coping and other serious consequences.

You may be the first person to notice a student in distress since you have frequent and prolonged contact with them. The University, in collaboration with Bear River Mental Health Department, requests that you act with compassion in your dealings with such students.


Students exhibiting troubling behaviors in your presence are likely having difficulties in various settings including the classroom, with roommates, with family, and even in social settings.

Trust your instincts and consult with someone if a student leaves you feeling worried, alarmed, or threatened!


Sometimes students cannot, or will not turn to family or friends. Your expression of concern may be a critical factor in saving a student's academic career or even their life.

The purpose of this website is to help you recognize symptoms of student distress and identify appropriate referrals to campus resources.

What About Privacy?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) allows University faculty and staff to share observations about the behavior of students, statements made by students, and concerns about students generally with USU personnel who have responsibility for the welfare of students, and with law enforcement, as suggested in this document.

FERPA and other student privacy regulations generally allow the University to release such information to parents, police or others whose knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student or other individuals. Appropriate consideration for student privacy should be given before information is shared with people other than those suggested in this document, and questions about when such disclosure is appropriate can be answered by the campus Office University Counsel.

The Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT)


The purpose of this team is to provide a means for early intervention of at-risk students through collaboration with campus departments, faculty and staff.

Students exhibiting behaviors that are of concern in relation to their personal, physical and emotional well-being should be referred to this team of professionals.

The Behavioral Intervention Team is not meant to be the sole mechanism of communication and will not take the place of services provided by Counseling & Psychological Services, Office of Student Conduct, University Police, or other established student services.

BIT Responsibility to the Campus

  • To provide a centralized structure for campus departments and that need help dealing with a student who is displaying concerning, disruptive, and/or distressed behavior.
  • To develop a strategic plan of action to ensure the safety of the student and the campus at large.
  • The committee would ensure that information is shared among strategic partners concerned about student welfare.


BIT Team Members

BIT is composed of the Office of the VP for Student Affairs, USU Police, Office of Student Conduct, Residential Life, Disablility Resource Center, Office of Affirmative Action and the office of Counseling and Psycological Services
  • Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Office of Student Conduct
  • Counseling & Psychological Services
  • USU Police Department
  • Disability Resource Center
  • Residential Life
  • Affirmative Action

The BIT Also Consults With

  • USU Health & Wellness Center
  • Academic Advisers
  • Athletics
  • Fraternity & Sorority Life
  • Research & Graduate Studies

Student of Concern Response

When a student exhibits behaviors of high concern and could potentially be a risk to self and others the BIT coordinates a proactive effort to prevent and/or manage the situation. BIT is NOT for emergencies! If there is an emergency call USUPD (435) 797-1939.

Referable Concerning Behaviors

  • Unusual or erratic behavior in class, in the residence halls, during advising sessions, etc
  • Extended absence from class or activities by a typically engaged student
  • Written work or creative expression with troubling themes or references
  • Verbal or written threats made by a student toward another student, faculty, and/or staff
  • Written or verbal expressions of suicidal ideation or intent
  • Other actions which cause an alarm or call into question the safety of the student or their peers


  1. A faculty or staff member (hereafter Point of Contact) believes that a critical incident or circumstance has reached a high level of concern.
  2. Point of Contact submits Student of Concern report through the online form.
  3. Once a report is accepted and assessed, a member of the BIT team may call the Point of Contact to gather more information if needed.
  4. The BIT chair will evaluate the situation and consult with team members to determine what further steps are required.
  5. Point of Contact will receive coordinated plans of action for various critical scenarios, with duties and responsibilities assigned to the appropriate unit as needed.

The Office of Student Conduct would like to thank the University of California system for sharing their Red Folder.