Signs of Distress

The following indicators can be important signs of distress.

You may notice a cadet exhibiting one or more of the academic, physical, or emotional signs and decide that something is wrong or you may have a "gut-level feeling" that something is amiss. If the latter is the case, don't dismiss your feelings or feel that you need to wait for tangible "proof" that a problem exists. A simple check-in with the cadet may help you get a better sense of his/her situation.

It is possible that any one of these signs, in and of itself, may simply mean that a cadet is having an “off” day. Consider consulting with a colleague, supervisor, the CCC, or other trusted member of the VMI community to share your observations and discuss how you might respond (see "How To Respond")

Academic signs
  • Deterioration in quality/quantity of work
  • A negative change in classroom or research performance (e.g., drop in grades)
  • Missed assignments or exams
  • Repeated absences from class or from lab
  • Disorganized or erratic performance
  • Decline in enthusiasm in class (e.g., no longer choosing a seat in the front of the room)
  • Cadet sends frequent, lengthy, “ranting” or threatening types of emails to professors
  • Continual seeking of special provisions (e.g., late papers, extensions, postponed exams, and projects)
Physical signs
  • Falling asleep in class or other inopportune times
  • A dramatic change in energy level (either direction)
  • Worrisome changes in hygiene or personal appearance
  • Significant changes in weight
  • Frequent state of alcohol intoxication (i.e., bleary-eyed, hung-over, smelling of alcohol)
  • Noticeable cuts, bruises or burns on cadet
Emotional signs
  • Inappropriate emotional outbursts (unprovoked anger or hostility, sobbing)
  • Exaggerated personality traits; more withdrawn or more animated than usual
  • Expressions of hopelessness, fear or worthlessness; themes of suicide, death and dying in papers/projects
  • Direct statements indicating distress, family problems, or other difficulties