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How do you know a student is struggling?

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College can be a fun, exciting, and wonderful experience, but it can also be challenging, overwhelming, and stressful.

College may be the first time many students experience being on their own, being away from their support system, making their own decisions, and feeling stress, anxiety, or depression. Many students do not know how to reach out for help or where to turn to for support.

If you are concerned or worried for a fellow Vol, observe a behavior that makes you uncomfortable, or you feel like a fellow Vol may harm themselves or others, 974-HELP is where you can call for support. The goal of 974-HELP is to provide help and support to all students, enabling them to succeed and thrive while at the University of Tennessee.


Signs that a student may be distressed or is struggling

  • Missing assignments, homework, and tests
  • Numerous or excessive absences
  • Disruptive behavior in class or behavior changes
  • Performance changes (involved to detached behavior in class; passing to failing grades; calm or quiet to verbal or irritable demeanor)
  • Isolating self from others
  • Withdrawing from friends or social events and commitments
  • Increased irritability or anger
  • Tearfulness or becoming easily upset
  • Changes in sleep (not sleeping at all or sleeping all the time)
  • Changes in eating (not eating at all or eating nonstop)
  • Increased drinking or drug use that is interfering with ability to complete daily tasks
  • Bizarre changes in behavior (irrational thinking, euphoric thinking or behavior, hearing or seeing things that are not there)
  • Disruptive behavior (aggressive, argumentative, irrational)
  • Anxiety or depression that prevents completion of daily tasks such as going to class, eating, sleeping, socializing, and connecting to others
  • Incoherent speech (not able to understand or follow)
  • A “not caring” attitude toward life, grades, friends, family, etc.
  • Decline or change in hygiene
  • Not showering
  • Wearing same or dirty clothes
  • Not caring about appearance (not shaving, brushing hair, or applying makeup as before)

A student who may need immediate assistance

  • Exhibits self-harming behaviors (cutting, burning, scarring)
  • Has suicidal thoughts or attempts (wanting to take own life or thinking everyone would be better if gone, has attempted to harm self)
  • Has thoughts of harming others (direct or indirect)
  • Is involved in an unhealthy relationship (emotionally, physically, or sexually abusive)
  • Demonstrates stalking behaviors (overly focused behavior on an individual; following an individual physically or via social media; excessively contacting an individual when told not to do so; constant need/desire to approach an individual; giving unwanted gifts to an individual)
  • Has been sexually assaulted or is experiencing domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking

What You Can Do

  • If student’s behavior is an imminent threat to themselves or others (direct plan to harm self or others, or cannot be left unsupervised due to behavior), CALL 911.
  • If there is no immediate threat but you are concerned for the student’s well-being and safety, call 974-HELP.

We keep the identity of those who call 974-HELP private unless you express that you want the student to know you reached out to us. Please be aware that sometimes students tell only a few people what they are struggling with, so they may be able to figure out on their own who called to express a concern.

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