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Common symptoms of emotional distress and mental health concerns

Common symptoms of emotional distress and mental health concerns:

  • Depressive or irritable moods (e.g. depressed or lethargic moods, sleep problems, poor concentration, loss of interest, low energy, excessive guilt, anxiety, irritability, rapid uncontrollable emotional changes, depressive thoughts)
  • Marked changes in behaviours (e.g. deterioration in personal hygiene, significant weight loss or gain, changes in alertness, overspending, a sudden increase in strength and energy even with decreased sleep, an increase in impulsive or risky behaviours)
  • Marked changes in interaction patterns (e.g. social withdrawal, avoidance of participation, excessive anxiety when called upon, easily startled, tendency to dominate discussions)
  • Excessive drinking, self-medication, or other addictive behaviours
  • Loss of motivation, drop in grades, or excessive absences
  • Repeated requests for special consideration, such as deadline extensions, with or without justifications for such requests
  • Concern comments or complaints from close friends about student’s mental conditions
  • The problems persist despite efforts spent
  • The student is developing an unhealthy dependence on others (e.g. friends, family, or teachers) for support


Seek help immediately if

  • Overtly suicidal thoughts (e.g. talking about suicide as a current option in oral or written forms)
  • Homicidal thoughts or threats to harm others
  • Gross mental impairments or confusion
  • Uncontrollable crying or intense emotions
  • Loss of contact with reality (e.g. seeing or hearing things, which others cannot see or hear, and beliefs or actions greatly at odds with reality or probability)
  • Bizarre behaviours (e.g. stalking behaviours)
  • Inappropriate communications (e.g. threatening messages or harassment)
  • Highly disruptive behaviours (e.g. hostility, aggression, or violence)

Common symptoms of emotional distress and mental health concerns