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Behavioral Intervention Resource Team

Recognizing a Student in Need

Action Guidelines

Recognizing a Student in Need

You may be the first one to recognize when a student needs help, and can guide him or her to professional resources. The following examples of student’s appearance, behavior, and expressions of distress are cause for concern.

Unusual Appearance:
  • Swollen or red eyes
  • A change in personal hygiene or dress
  • Dramatic weight loss or gain
Marked Behavior Changes:
  • Poor performance and preparation
  • Excessive absences or tardiness
  • Repeated requests for special consideration, especially when accompanied by a change in attitude
  • Unusual or changed pattern of interaction
  • Avoids participation
  • Dominates discussions
  • Excessive anxiety when called upon
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Problems with roommates or family
  • Exaggerated emotional responses that are inappropriate to the situation
  • Depressed, lethargic mood
  • Hyperactivity or very rapid speech
  • Strange or bizarre behavior indicating a loss of contact with reality

Making a Mental Health Referral

Point out that help is available and encourage the student to go to: Student Health & Wellness Services - Health & Safety, Building 1700 - Room 1701, 925-424-1830 Personal counseling is offered (under supervision of a licensed psychologist). Hours available each week, by appointment. If an immediate appointment is not available and the student is experiencing a personal crisis, s/he may be seen by a crisis counselor. Low cost community counseling referrals are also available.

Mental Health Crisis Intervention


Phone for local mental health crisis resources:

(800) 491-9099

(800) 884-8119

(866) 225-5277

(800) 273-TALK


Suicide Prevention



Suicide Prevention



A statewide, toll-free, 24-hour, confidential hotline for youth age 12-24 for information, support, and referrals to local resources.


Distressed Behaviors

Behaviors indicative of emotional distress, but not necessarily disruptive. (In this category, you may be acting on an uncomfortable feeling you have rather than an observable or flagrant action.)

Possible Behaviors
  • Nervous or anxious
  • Sad, crying, or depressed
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Spaced-out or disheveled appearance
  • Angry
  • Under the influence
  • Excessive demand for reassurance or support
  • Expressing suicidal thoughts
Suggested Action
  • Talk with student privately or confidentially
  • Express concern to Student
  • Inform student about available assistance through Student Psychological Services

Whenever a student expresses suicidal thoughts, take them seriously and get help immediately by calling the Student Health & Wellness Center, 424-1830 or Safety x1699 after hours.

Additional Tips:

In a non-urgent situation, talk with the student about your observations and concerns. Such acknowledgment often encourages them to get help. Try the following approaches:

  • Be direct, specific and nonjudgmental
  • Spell out your specific concerns and ask how you can help
  • Express concern (rather than shock, dismay, fear or anger, which may further upset the student)
  • Listen carefully to understand his or her point of view

Disruptive Behaviors

Causing disruption in or outside of classroom.

Possible Behaviors:
  • Inappropriately focusing attention on self
  • Irrational or inappropriate
  • Unrelated or bizarre comments
  • Verbally abusive
  • Defiant
  • Exhibitionist
Suggested action:
  • Always protect personal safety
  • Protect safety of others, if possible
    If appropriate:
    • Speak with student privately and confidentially
    • Show concern/acknowledge feelings
  • Set limits for acceptable behavior
  • Summarize incident in writing
  • Call member of BIRT for consultation

If discussion with student seems inappropriate, dangerous, or ineffective: Request student leave class and contact Campus Safety mmediately at 424-1699.

Dangerous Behaviors

Danger to self or others.

Preventing Violence

Possible behaviors

  • Acting out and appears to be potentially violent
  • Violent behavior toward self or others
  • Threatening to harm or kill self or others

Be concerned if you observe any of the following:

  • Alcohol or drug intoxication
  • Paranoia or agitation
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Recent acts of violence, including damage to property
  • Verbal or physical threats
  • Threatening actions or objects that may be used as weapons
What To Do

Suggested action:

  • Always protect personal safety
  • Protect safety of others if possible
  • Immediately call Campus Safety at 424-1699 and/or 911
  • Buy time by talking calmly and with concern until help arrives.
Additional Tips:
  • Protect yourself—Be alert to the potential for violence. Know as much about the situation as possible before meeting the student. Survey the scene for immediate hazards. Resist dealing with the situation alone; enlist the help of others.
  • Abstain from provoking violence—Approach the individual in a non-threatening way. Speak in a calm, reassuring manner. Never confront or threaten students who seem paranoid or aggressive. Refrain from touching the person if you can and avoid physically restraining anyone who is agitated. If you are attacked, use only enough force to contain the person.
  • Be firm, but gentle—Let the student know that violence is not acceptable. It is often helpful to change the environment. Get the student to a calm, quiet place (away from environmental stimuli, such as noise, lights and people). Also try to avoid crowds or sources of anger.

For more information please contact:

Building 1700
Room 1701