MSU CARE Program

Resources for Faculty, Staff and Parents

Depressed Suicidal Overanxious Grieving Self-Injury
Disruptive Aggressive Threatening Eating Problems Bipolar
Irrational Under the Influence Stalking Relationship Violence Sexual Assault
*All linked information from the Reaching Out Handbook: Resources for Responding to Students in Distress used with permission from Boise State University's Health Services.



Bipolar disorder, or manic-depression, is a type of mental illness that involves a disorder of affect or mood.  The student's mood usually swings between overly "high" or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, with periods of normal mood in between.  Bipolar disorder usually begins in late adolescence, often appearing as depressing during teen years.  

Since faculty and staff are in a position to observe and interact with students, they are often the first to recognize a student in distress. Look for a pattern of these indicators:




  •  Decreased need for sleep
  •  Inability to sleep or oversleeping
  •  Reckless behavior such as spending sprees, erratic driving, rash decisions
  •  Persistent sad and/or anxious mood
  • Extreme irritability and distractibility
  •  Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  •  Excessive “high” or euphoric feelings
  •  Thoughts of death or suicide
  •  Increased energy, activity, restlessness
  •  Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  •  Racing thoughts, rapid speech
  •  Decreased energy, fatigue
  •  Abuse of drugs or alcohol
  •  Inability to concentrate, make decisions





  • Speak directly to the student about your concerns and be concrete in describing the behavior that concerns you.
  • Minimizing the seriousness of the student's presenting behavior.
  • Encourage the student to make an appointment with a counselor at Counseling and Psychological Services to explore what might be causing her/his distress.
  • Making demands that the student see a professional (she or he may be feeling great and not realize anything is wrong).
  • If the student is not in a state to be reasoned with (manic, distorted thinking, psychotic), contact Counseling and Psychological Services to consult on how best to proceed to help the student.
  • Becoming involved with the student beyond your level of expertise.
  • Ignoring signs of suicidal tendencies.  Loss of interest or pleasure in activities.



If there is immediate risk to life or property, call 911.