The following behaviors can all be important signs of distress. As a member of the UMass Lowell community, you may notice a student exhibiting one or more of the academic signs, physical signs or emotional signs signs and decide that something is clearly wrong. Or you may have a "gut-level feeling" that something may be wrong. 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 student may help you get a better sense of their situation.

Academic Signs ACADEMIC

  • Deterioration in quality/quantity of work.
  • Repeated absences from class, from research, or a lab coupled with other signs of distress.
  • Disorganized or erratic performance or behavior.

Physical Signs Physical

  • A dramatic change in energy level (either direction).
  • Falling asleep in class.
  • Worrisome changes in hygiene or personal appearance.
  • Frequent state of alcohol or drug intoxication (i.e., bleary-eyed, hung-over, smelling of alcohol).
  • Noticeable cuts, bruises, or burns.

EMOTIONALEmotional Signs

  • Inappropriate or out of context emotional outbursts (unprovoked anger or hostility, sobbing).
  • Exaggerated personality traits; more withdrawn or more animated than usual.
  • Expressions of hopelessness, fear, or worthlessness.
  • Direct statements indicating distress.
  • Peer concern about a fellow student (in class, lab, residence hall, club).

It is possible that any one of these signs, in and of itself, may simply mean that a student is having an "off" day. Please note, any one serious sign (e.g., a student writes a paper expressing hopelessness and/or thoughts of suicide) or a cluster of smaller signs (e.g., emotional outbursts, repeated absence, a noticeable cut on the arm) necessitates an intervention.

If you are not sure if a student’s behavior calls for a STARs referral, defer to submitting a report; we would rather you overreport than underreport. Please do not email the staff on the team, we will ask you to submit a report, and valuable time may pass during the interim.

NOTE: In cases where a student’s behavior poses an imminent threat to themselves, you or another, you must contact the University Police immediately at extension 44-911 on campus or call: 978-934-2911.