The road can suddenly get harder than anticipated and you may notice or sense that your student is having significant academic, emotional, and/or social difficulties. While most students will be able to manage these challenges, some will find that they are too difficult and overwhelming to handle. Your role as a parent is also a challenging one. While your student might be away from home, you may still be the first person to notice a change in your student’s behavior, mood, or attitude. It is important to know the signs of distress and how to get help. Below is a non-exhaustive list of some signs of distress:

  • Suddenly or slowly stops sharing details of how things are going
  • Your student calls home much more frequently than you both planned or wants to come home more than usual for them
  • Your student never calls or does not answer calls, which is different than the usual amount of contact
  • Your student never wants to come home
  • When they come home for a visit or holiday, they continue to express that they do not want to return
  • Your student’s attitude shifts where they seem more unhappy, anxious, withdrawn, more negative than usual
  • Stops attending class, infrequent attendance with little or no work completed
  • Dramatic weight loss or weight gain
  • Excessive requests /need for money
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene
  • Impaired speech or garbled, disjointed thoughts
  • Suicidal thoughts, either directly (referring to suicide as an option), or indirectly (“It doesn’t matter…I won’t be here for the final exam.”)
  • High levels of irritability, aggressive, or abrasive behavior
  • Inability to make decisions despite repeated attempts to clarify and encourage
  • Trust your instincts

Updated: August 11, 2023