What is distress?

Are you worried about a friend or a colleague?

Do you think that your friend/colleague is feeling upset, stressed, anxious, depressed or has emotional or psychological symptoms?

Has it been affecting their normal functioning for more than 4 weeks?

Your friend might be distressed – a global term to cover all sorts of psychological problems, mental health problems and issues.

Do any of the following behaviours describe someone you know?


  • Looks down and miserable
  • Tired, or sleepy
  • Change from their normal physical appearance


  • Irritable
  • Sad
  • Anxious
  • Overly sensitive and worried
  • Changes in mood
  • Seems different
  • Suppresses emotion

Physical symptoms

  • Change in sleeping habits, not being able to sleep or can’t wake up
  • Change in eating habits, less healthy patterns
  • Physical symptoms, e.g. Bowel upsets, feeling sick, shortness of breath, headaches, stomach pain, skin rash
  • Panic attacks


  • Change in their normal behaviour or habits
  • Lack of interest in things normally interested in
  • Not answering phone or responding to communication attempts
  • Crying
  • Not engaging much in conversation or discussion
  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Hard excessive partying
  • Increasing use of alcohol and drugs, coffee, smoking
  • Skipping classes or a deterioration in grades
  • Self destructive, not caring about themselves or their safety


  • Not coping with studies
  • Not coping with normal life events