Student with Depression

Facts about depression

  • Depression is a common mental health problem that varies in severity and duration
  • In its less serious form, depression is a temporary reaction to loss, stress, or life challenges. It can be alleviated through the passage of time and/or the natural healing effects of social supports, daily routines, and simple coping strategies like distraction, a structured daily schedule, and exercise
  • Severe or chronic depression requires professional help
  • Sometimes depression includes irritation, anxiety and anger (particularly with men)
  • In its most serious form, depression can be accompanied by self-destructive thoughts and intentions as a way to escape from the emotional pain
  • Research shows that depression can be highly responsive to both psychotherapy and medication

Symptoms of depression can include

  • feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness
  • a deep sense of sadness
  • an inability to experience pleasure
  • irregular eating and sleeping
  • difficulties with concentration, memory, and decision-making
  • fatigue and social withdrawal

What You Can Do

  • Talk to the student in private
  • Listen carefully and validate the student’s feelings and experiences (“It is very difficult, tiring, and distressing to feel this sad so often”)
  • Be supportive and express your concern about the situation (“That you are feeling this badly concerns me greatly and I am glad you told me about it”)
  • Discuss clearly and concisely an action plan such as having the student immediately call for a counseling appointment (“I know depression can’t get better as long as it is a secret and is not actively responded to. Counseling can really make a difference here”)
  • Refer the student to Counseling and Mental Health Services at 860-486-4705
  • Be willing to consider or offer flexible arrangements (e.g., extension on a paper or exam), if appropriate, as a way to alleviate stress and instill hope
  • Ask student if they have thoughts of suicide.  If so, do not leave the student alone. Walk them over to Counseling and Mental Health Services. If it is after 4:30pm or on the weekend, access emergency services by calling 860-486-4705
  • If you feel overwhelmed or unprepared to help a depressed student, call the Dean of Student Office at 860-486-3426 who will maintain your confidentiality and arrange a meeting with that student


  • Downplaying the situation (“But you normally seem so happy”)
  • Arguing with the student or disputing that the student is feeling depressed (“Your grades are so good, are you sure you’re really depressed”)
  • Providing too much information for the student to process
  • Expecting the student to stop feeling depressed without intervention (“Sad feelings pass and maybe they will for you, too”)
  • Assuming the family knows about the student’s depression