Managing Distressed Students

Managing Distressed Students

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, about one in four adults suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. It is not uncommon for student mental health issues to manifest themselves during the college years. In order to proactively and effectively manage students in distress, Del Mar College provides a number of resources and services for faculty assistance and student use. The campus community must work together to create a safe culture for students to discuss and address these mental health issues.

How can I tell if a student is in distress?

  • Depressed mood and lethargy
  • Hyperactivity or rapid speech
  • Unexplained crying, irritability, anxiety or anger
  • Lowering of academic performance, changes in attendance or participation, decreased ability to concentrate
  • Changes in personal hygiene, dress or appetite
  • Strange or bizarre behavior indicating loss of contact with reality
  • Talking or writing about suicide or homicide
  • Highly disruptive behavior (e.g., hostility, aggression and violence).

What can I do for a student in distress?

  • Arrange to talk with the student outside of class time and express your concerns in terms of specific behaviors.
  • Listen to thoughts and feelings in a sensitive, nonjudgmental way.
  • Use direct but non-threatening terms. It is better to state your concern directly than to ignore the behaviors.
  • Tell the student that help is available and that seeking help is a sign of strength.
  • All suicidal/homicidal expressions should be taken seriously. Seek immediate help from the DMC Security Office 698-1199.
  • Follow-up is an important part of the process. Check with the student later to find out how he or she is progressing.

How do I address inappropriate classroom behavior that may be related to a student in distress?

  • Clearly establish classroom behavioral expectations in your syllabus and address behavioral problems accordingly. In the classroom, the instructor has complete control of managing the students.
  • The DMC Security Office is available to assist with threats of violence, physical or verbal abuse and uncooperative students (refusing to leave class). Report suspected activity such as physical and verbal abuse to DMC Security Office.
  • If a student expresses a direct threat to themselves or others, or acts in a bizarre, highly irrational or disruptive way, call the Del Mar Security Office at 698-1199 or 9-911 in case of imminent circumstances.
  • Behavioral issues and classroom disruptions, even those related to mental health, can be referred to the Dean of Student Engagement and Retention, at 698-1277. In addition, document the incident with your student records and inform your department chair of disruptive activity and student concerns.

Should I be concerned about issues of confidentiality (FERPA, HIPAA) when assisting students in distress?
It is important to inform students that in circumstances where there is clear and present danger to the student or others, or in other specific conditions allowed by law, confidential information may be released.

Page last updated February 1, 2018.

Contact Information

Campus Security & Safety

(temporarily moved to Harvin Center 230)
Heritage Campus (map
101 Baldwin Blvd.
Corpus Christi, TX  78401
Office: (361) 698-1946
Fax: (361) 698-2019

Emergency (24 Hours):
(361) 698-1199

(361) 698-1946

Office Hours
Open 24 hours a day
7 days a week