How to Help

We encourage members of the NIU community to recognize signs of emotional distress in students. If you notice a student who may need assistance, there are steps you can take to help them get the support they need.

What to Look For

Sometimes it is very clear when a student is having difficulty coping, and sometimes their distress is less obvious. Some clear, and not-so-clear, signs of distress to look for include:

  • Depressed mood, crying, acting withdrawn, or lacking energy or motivation.
  • Threats of suicide or harm to self or another person.
  • Exaggerated emotional response (becoming highly agitated over a grade, for example).
  • Disturbing coursework content.
  • Email or other communication perceived as disturbing or harassing to another person.
  • Inappropriate behavior and/or disjointed or confused thoughts.
  • Marked change in physical appearance, dress or hygiene.
  • Chronic fatigue or repeatedly sleeping in class.
  • Appearance of being intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
  • Behavior that is disruptive to the teaching environment.
  • Unusual or markedly changed pattern of interaction, such as totally avoiding participation, becoming excessively anxious or dominating discussions.
  • Marked change in academic performance or class attendance.

What to Do

Immediate threat of harm

If a student’s behavior may pose an immediate threat of harm to self or others, call 911.

Uncertain risk level

If a student’s behavior might pose a risk, but the level of risk is uncertain, consult with any of the following offices for the next steps. After consulting, please fill out a Student of Concern report to ensure the information is shared with the team.

No immediate threat of harm

If a student’s behavior does not seem to pose a risk of immediate harm, but they could benefit from additional support or guidance, contact Counseling and Consultation Services at 815-753-1206 for feedback and next steps. You can also fill out a Student of Concern report online or contact one of the following offices to make a report:

File a Report

In most situations, if you believe a student is in distress, please consult with any of the these resources. After consulting, please file a Student of Concern report.

Providing Support

At NIU, we support our students. As the community member who is noticing concerning or distressing behavior, you have a relationship with the student you are concerned about. The Student of Concern team is one resource on campus to communicate this concern, but you still have a primary relationship with that student. Consulting with the team and submitting a Student of Concern report is only one part of the process.

We encourage you to continue to provide appropriate support and referrals to students about whom you are concerned. If you become aware of new concerning behavior, please continue to consult with campus partners and, if necessary, complete another Student of Concern report. Please see Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Contact Us

Student of Concern Committee

Kelly Olson
Assistant dean of students

Submit a Report