DEALING WITH DISTRESSED witness a diminishment in awareness of
STUDENTS what is going on around them, forgetting 7. Violence and Aggression. You may
or losing things, misperception of facts or become aware of students who may be
reality, rambling or disconnected speech, dangerous to others. This may be
Any member of the Trinity Western University and behavior that seems out of context or manifested by physically violent behavior,
community may come into contact with a bizarre. verbal threats, threatening e-mail or
distressed student. Being aware of distress letters, harassing or stalking behavior, and
signals, methods of intervention, and sources of 4. Drug Abuse. Drug abuse affects the papers or exams that contain violent or
help for the student can help you feel more in brain and body directly. Stimulants like threatening material.
control of situations that may arise. The mental cocaine and methamphetamine “amp up”
health professionals at the Counseling Center the body. Drugs like opiates and 8. Panic Attacks. Everyone knows what
are available to student leaders, faculty and marijuana slow down the body, breathing it’s like to feel worried, nervous, afraid or
staff for consultation regarding these issues. and alertness. Signs of abuse include panicky. Often anxiety is short-lived, but
Feel free to call us at 513-2100 if you would like cycles of increased energy and sometimes it can be debilitating and lead
to discuss these matters further. restlessness, abnormally slow movements, to full blown panic attacks. When a
speech or reaction time, confusion and person is having a panic attack they may
DISTRESS SIGNALS disorientation. For snorted drugs, chronic be experiencing shortness of breath, heart
trouble with nosebleeds and for smoked palpitations, dizziness, sweating, nausea,
Listed below are some of the more prevalent drugs, a persistent cough leading to feeling of unreality – like they’re “not all
signs of someone in distress. This list is coughing up excessive mucus or blood. there”; or like they are losing control of
intended to provide basic information only. their mind.
5. Alcohol Abuse. The difference between
1. Depression. While we all may feel social drinking and alcohol abuse is when INTERVENTION GUIDELINES
depressed from time to time, "normal" alcohol becomes the focus. A student
depressions may consist of only one or may only want to attend social events that While it is not expected that you be a
two symptoms and usually pass within involve alcohol. Alcohol abusers drink too "watchdog", you may be the first contact for a
days. Clinically depressed students will much on a regular basis and the alcohol student in distress and in a position to ask a few
exhibit multiple symptoms for a longer use is self-destructive. Signs of alcohol questions. Following these guidelines can lead
period of time. Some of these symptoms abuse include slurred speech, to a positive outcome for all parties.
are sleep disturbances, poor unsteadiness, blackouts, redness in the
concentration, change in appetite, loss of face, increased irritability, and unexplained 1. Safety First! Always keep safety in mind
interest in pleasurable activities, absences. as you interact with a distressed student.
withdrawal, poor hygiene, loss of self- Maintain a safe distance and a route of
worth, and preoccupation with death. 6. Suicidal Thoughts. Most people who escape should you need it. If danger to you
attempt suicide communicate early or the student seems imminent, call 911 or
2. Agitation or Acting Out. This would messages about their distress. These Security at local 2099.
represent a departure from normal or messages can range from "I don't want to
socially appropriate behavior. It might be here", to a series of vague "good- 2. Avoid Escalation. Distressed students
include being disruptive, restlessness or byes", to "I'm going to kill myself." Non- can sometimes be easily provoked. Avoid
hyperactivity, being antagonistic, and verbal messages could include giving away threatening, humiliating, and intimidating
increased alcohol and/or drug abuse. valued items, and putting legal, financial, responses. It is usually not a good idea to
and University affairs in order. All of the "pull rank" and assert authority unless you
3. Disorientation. Some distressed above messages should be taken are certain of the student's mental health
students may seem "out of it." You may seriously.
status. Distressed students are in need of
listening and support. REFERRAL SOURCES
3. Ask Direct Questions. Take a calm and TWU Wellness Center: 604-513-2024
matter-of-fact approach. Ask students
directly if they are drunk, confused or if Langley Mental Health: 604-514-7940
HOW TO DEAL WITH
they have thoughts of harming themselves.
You need not be afraid to ask these Fraser South Mental Health After Hours
questions. You will not be "putting ideas in
their heads" by doing so. Most distressed
students are relieved to know that someone 911 (for police, fire and medical emergencies
has noticed and is paying attention. only)
4. Do Not Assume You Are Being
Manipulated. While it is true that some
students appear distressed in order to get
attention or relief from responsibility, only a
thorough assessment can determine this.
Attention-seekers can have serious
problems and be in danger, too.
5. Know Your Limits. You will be able to
assist many distressed students on your
own by simply listening and referring them
for further help. Some students will need
much more than you can provide.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
Encourage them for confiding in you, be
accepting and nonjudgmental, try to The mission of the Counselling Center is to:
identify the problem area, and indicate that
seeking professional help is a positive and provide counselling services to students,
responsible thing to do. faculty and staff. A Guide for TWU Student Leaders,
provide consultation services regarding
Faculty and Staff
Some signs that you may have over-
extended yourself include: emotional health issues to the Trinity
Western University community.
Feeling stressed out or overwhelmed by
the situation provide internship opportunities for grad Prepared by the Wellness Centre
students in the counseling psychology
2nd floor Douglas Centre
Feeling angry at the student program.
"Reliving" similar experiences of your