Center for Student Support and Intervention

When to Refer a Student

Indicators of Distress: What to Look For

Be aware of the following indicators of distress. Look for groupings, frequency, duration, and severity - not just isolated symptoms.


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 ideations/violent behaviors - a "cry for help"
  • Stalking or harassing
  • Communicating threats via email, correspondence, texting, or phone calls

(from UC Berkeley Gold Folder: Faculty/Staff Reference to Assist Students in Distress)


Frequent Examples of 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 students, faculty, and/or staff
  • Written or verbal expressions of suicidal ideation or intent
  • Other actions that cause an alarm or call into question the safety of the student or his/her peers


How to Refer a Student

Campus staff and faculty can refer a student to the Students of Concern Committee by submitting a CARE Report through our secure online form here.

If you have questions about submitting a report, please call 510-664-4218.


  • The phone number listed above is not a 24-hour service to access to support
  • If there is an immediate threat to a student (either through self-harm or interpersonal violence) or the community, please call 911 or 510-642-3333.
  • If you believe a student is in need of immediate psychological help, when Counseling & Psychological Services is open call 510-642-9494; after hours call 510-643-7197.