December 08, 2021

Signs that a student may need professional mental health support

Many students experience an increase in stress toward the end of the semester. You may find yourself encountering students with mental health and emotional needs that warrant a response and/or a referral to a mental health provider, say the counselors at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Be aware of changes in a person’s demeanor, behavior, academic and work performance, social interactions, and energy levels as sudden changes can be an indicator of a mental health concern. Below is a list of common presentations that may indicate a need for additional mental health support:

  • Adjustment: Individuals may express that they are having difficulty adjusting to classes or campus and may struggle in new situations. They may also seek to stay within their “comfort zone.”
  • Anxiety: Individuals may experience uncontrolled worry, stress, and nervousness. They may express fears and seem easily overwhelmed. People often experience difficulty concentrating and feelings of panic when anxious.
  • Sadness: Individuals may cry, withdraw from others and engage in negative self-appraisals. They may display low motivation and interest in projects and activities. Some may engage in self-harming behaviors or suicidal ideation.
  • Anger: Individuals may appear irritable, agitated and quick tempered. They may experience frequent interpersonal conflicts.
  • Substance use: Individuals may display fatigue, agitation and changes in their physical appearance. They may appear zoned out, smell of substances and report financial difficulties.
  • Disordered eating: Individuals may seem preoccupied with food and extremely concerned with body shape and appearance. They may skip meals, avoid eating in front of others and fluctuate in weight.
  • Mania: Individuals may have episodes in which they display an increase in goal-directed behavior, engage in risk-taking actions and are out of touch with reality. They may have a decreased need for sleep, an inflated self-esteem and be excessively talkative.
  • Psychosis: Individuals may become disoriented, disconnected from reality and engage in unusual behaviors. They may appear paranoid and report hallucinations.

If you are concerned about a student, let the person know that you care and would like to help. Encourage counseling or submit a Saluki Cares report. You may want to help them call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 618-453-5371 or walk them to a CAPS location for a counseling session. Follow up with them to check on how they are doing and if their needs are being met.

Not sure how to help? You can always call a counselor at CAPS and provide information about a student. We provide confidential counseling services for students and can assist in a variety of ways.