Signs of Distress

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There are physical, behavioural, emotional and academic signs that indicate a student is experiencing difficulty. A student may exhibit a few or many of these signs. Some of these signs may indicate a student’s safety could possibly be at immediate risk and require action.

The following is a list of potential signs as indicated on the More Feet on the Ground website.

Physical Indicators

  • Deterioration in physical appearance or personal hygiene.
  • Excessive fatigue, exhaustion; falling asleep in class repeatedly.
  • Visible changes in weight; statements about changes in appetite or sleep.
  • Noticeable cuts, bruises or burns.
  • Frequent or chronic illness.
  • Disorganized speech, rapid or slurred speech, confusion.
  • Unusual inability to make eye contact.
  • Arrival to class bleary-eyed or smelling of alcohol.

Behavioural and Emotional Indicators

  • Direct statements indicating distress, family problems or loss.
  • Difficulty controlling emotions.
  • Angry or hostile outbursts; yelling or aggressive comments.
  • More withdrawn or animated than usual.
  • Expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness; crying or tearfulness.
  • Expressions of severe anxiety or irritability.
  • Excessively demanding or dependent behaviour.
  • Lack of response to outreach from course staff.
  • Shakiness, tremors, fidgeting or pacing.

Academic Indicators

  • Repeated absences.
  • Missed assignments, exams or appointments.
  • Deterioration in quality or quantity of work.
  • Extreme disorganization or erratic performance.
  • Written or artistic expression of unusual violence, morbidity, social isolation, despair or confusion; essays or papers that focus on suicide or death.
  • Continual seeking of special provisions (extensions on papers, make-up exams).

Safety Risk Indicators

  • Written or oral statements that mention despair, suicide or death.
  • Severe hopelessness, helplessness, depression, social isolation and withdrawal.
  • Statements to the effect the student is “going away for a long time.”
  • Written or oral expressions of a desire to injure or kill someone else.

If a student is exhibiting any of these signs, she/he may pose an immediate danger to her/himself. In this situation, contact professional resources on your campus (such as counselling, health or emergency services) and ask for their assistance.

Emergency Indicators

  • The student is physically or verbally aggressive toward her/himself, others, animals or property.
  • The student is unresponsive to the external environmental; she/he is:
    • Incoherent or passed out.
    • Demonstrating a severe disturbance of cognitive, behavioural or emotional functioning.
    • Displaying disruptive behaviour that appears to be out of control.
  • The situation feels threatening or dangerous to you.


In these or similar situations, call Campus Security (x3200) or your local police (911) and ask for immediate assistance.

Other Factors

  • Expressions of concern about a student by her/his peers, teaching assistant or other colleagues.
  • A hunch or gut-level reaction something is wrong.

If a student is exhibiting any of these signs, she/he may pose an immediate danger to her/himself. In these cases, you should contact professional resources on your campus (such as counselling, health or emergency services) and ask for assistance.

 In these or similar situations, call
Campus Security x3200
or 911 and ask for immediate assistance.
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    Student Health Services

    Located in Harrison Hall
    (next to Campus Security)
    Physicians and Mental Health Nurse
    905-688-5550 x3243

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    Personal Counselling

    Located in the Schmon Tower – ST400
    905-688-5550 x3240 (crisis)

    905-688-5550 x4750 (non-crisis/

    appointment booking)


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    Campus Security

    Located in the Kenmore Centre (across from the Walker Complex)
    905-688-5550 x3200 (crisis)
    905-688-5550 x4300 (non-crisis)

Crisis Services
at Brock

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    Brock Campus Security

    905-688-5550 x3200

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    In Case Of Emergency

    Call 911

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    Niagara Distress Centre

    905-688-3711 (support line)

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    Niagara Health System, St. Catharines Hospital

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    Personal Counselling

    905-327-2244 (emergency after hours)

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    24 Hours Post-Secondary Student Hotline (Good 2 Talk)


After Hours Crisis Resources