Why do people hesitate to tell others about their stressors or challenges?

  • “No one else is struggling like I am”
  • “I don’t want to be ‘needy’”
  • Fear of being a burden
  • Need/want to keep things private
  • Embarrassed, ashamed about what is going on?
  • Worried about what others might think
  • Anticipate negative reactions from others
  • Talking about “mental health” is not their cultural norm

But…we need support – science says so!

Our brains are wired to be connected to- and get support from others even when it might not feel like it. Being independent, tough, and self-reliant in times of distress can be less effective for coping.

Supportive relationships “share the load” and decrease the burden. In fact, relying on close relationships is one of the important factors in resilience – the ability to bounce back from negative emotional experiences.

What are some events that can create distress in college students?

  • Loneliness
  • Break-ups
  • Difficulty with academics
  • Family issues (e.g., conflict)
  • Physical illness, injury
  • Illness or death of a loved one
  • Sexual assault
  • Harassment, bullying
  • Financial problems
  • Food insecurity
  • Homelessness
  • Unemployment

Know the Signs of Distress & Take Them Seriously

Verbal Indicators of Distress

  • “I’m so stressed!”
  • “I am overwhelmed”
  • “I don’t have time.”
  • “I can’t relax”
  • “No one understands what I’m going through.”
  • “Everyone else is handling things okay”
  • “I just want to be left alone”

Verbal Indicators of RISK FOR HARM (self or others)

  • “Life is pointless”
  • “No matter what I do, nothing changes”
  • “I can’t go on like this”
  • “No one would care if I wasn’t around”
  • “Others would be better off without me”
  • “Nothing matters anymore anyway”
  • “I’m so tired and don’t care about anything anymore”
  • “I wish that I just wouldn’t wake up”
  • Threats (general or specific) against others
  • Unusual fears/paranoia about others threatening to harm them

Reminder! "Verbal" indicators can include messages written via text or on social media. 

Behavioral Indicators of Distress

  • Sad, gloomy
  • Anxious, “on edge,” panicked
  • Tearful
  • Irritable, angry
  • Withdrawn, isolated
  • Trouble concentrating and/or making decisions
  • Numbness (“I don’t feel anything”), indifferent
  • No motivation or interest
  • Missing lots of class
  • Change in drinking or substance use
  • Change in appetite and/or significant weight loss/gain
  • Decline in ability to sleep or sleeping most of the day
  • Decline in hygiene

Behavioral Indicators of RISK OF HARM (self or others)

  • Hostile
  • Bizarre thoughts, behaviors
  • Putting “affairs in order” (e.g., giving things away, dropping classes)


  • UCSB Counseling & Psychological Services 24/7 – 805-893-4411
  • UCSB Student Mental Health Coordination Services – 805-893-3030
  • UCSB Student Health Services – 805-893-5361
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK
  • National Crisis Textline – text CONNECT to 741-741
  • Emergency/Police/Paramedics – 911

#SaySomething if you are struggling or if you know someone else needs support.