Concerning Behaviors

What should I do?

When dealing with students of concern follow the three Rs: Recognize, Respond, and Refer. Anyone, a parent, guardian, fellow student, staff or faculty member, or other concerned individual can follow the steps below and refer a student for follow up. 


Below are indicators that will help you identify a student of concern for review by the SBRT.  Pay attention to persistent behaviors, sudden changes, and the duration of the signs. 


    • Sudden decline in quality of course work and/or grades
    • Lack of organizational skills
    • Multiple requests for extensions on assignments
    • Overly demanding of faculty/staff’s time and attention, both in and via email
    • Unusual content in writings and presentations
    • Conversations tending towards personal topics rather than the students coursework


    • Significant changes in physical appearance (grooming/hygiene, weight loss/gain)
    • Excessive loss of sleep or fatigue
    • Consistent intoxication, hangovers, or the scent of alcohol
    • Seems to be disoriented or “out of it” often
    • Disconnected or slurred speech
    • Strange behavior that is out of context
    • Delusions or paranoia


    • Concern from peers
    • Extreme emotional response to events
    • Excessive crying or panicked reactions
    • Unusual irritability
    • Heightened apathy towards things they normally cherish or look forward to
    • disclosure of personal issues (family or financial issues, grief, suicide ideation, etc.)

Safety Risk

    • Physical violence towards others (shoving, grabbing, assault, use of weapons)
    • Implying or making a direct threat to harm themselves or others
    • Themes of hopelessness, rage, worthlessness, despair, suicidal ideation, etc. found within academic assignments or during conversations
    • Stalking or harassing of others
    • Communicating threats of, or to, others or self


Stay Safe: Assess the situation and call 911 or UMPD at 207.581.4040 if there is an imminent danger to the student, you, or another individual.

Stay Calm: Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself.  Use a calm voice when talking to a student in crisis and asking questions. 

Utilize Active Listening: Make eye contact (if appropriate) and give your full attention to the student.  Restate and reiterate what the student says to make sure you understand the cause of the distress and/or what they are asking you for help with.

Ask Direct Question: Don’t be afraid to directly ask the student if they are having thoughts of harming themselves or others (asking this will not instill the thought into the student).

Use OARS when talking to a student in distress:

  • Open-Ended Questions – ask questions that require a full answer and are not yes/no
  • Affirmations – acknowledge the student’s distress without judgement
  • Reflective Listening – understand what an individual says and feels and then relay this back to them in the conversation
  • Summarize – validate the student during the conversation and encourage them to seek resources on campus


Is immediate assistance necessary?


Behavior that is severely disruptive, directly impacts others, and is actively dangerous including life-threatening or self-injurious behaviors.

    1. Call 911 or UMPD at 207.581.4040 for immediate response
    2. Submit a SBRT report 


Behavior is at an elevated level and is increasingly disruptive or the behavior is causing impairment in the student to manage themselves, their emotions, and/or their actions.

Submit a SBRT report and/or call Student Life at 207.581.1406 for guidance. 


Many students experience stress in college.  Some may need more support when one or more stressors are present, they have a lack of coping skills, or the student has a limited or non-existent support network.

If you feel the student needs more support, submit a SBRT report and refer the student to appropriate campus resources.