Concerning or distressing behaviours

Western Sydney University aims to provide a safe, supportive and healthy environment for students and staff. This is a shared responsibility for all members of our community. However, from time to time, staff may have contact with a person who displays behaviours which cause some concern.

For further information on recognising and responding to aggression visit our guide to managing aggressive behaviours.

Recognising distressing or concerning behaviours

Examples of distressed behaviour may include:

  • tearful, sad, worried
  • low self-esteem
  • low motivation
  • changes in mood and appearance
  • difficulty concentrating
  • unusual restlessness or agitation.

Examples of concerning behaviour may include acting:

  • out of character
  • confused

How to respond to distressing, concerning and/or aggressive behaviours

Further information on responding to aggression visit our guide to managing aggressive behaviours.

  1. Consider the safety of yourself and others at all times.
  2. Offer support through diffusing the situation by locating a quiet place to support and discuss concerns (if safe to do so).
  3. Use positive communication strategies:
    1. Listen actively
    2. Clearly explain information
    3. You may consider asking "how can I help?"
    4. You may like to offer support contacts or appropriate services.
    5. Try to have one main person chatting to the distressed individual
  4. General good practice principles when meeting with people causing concern or displaying distressed behaviours include:
    1. Keep the office door open during meetings
    2. Sit closest to the door with no obstacles in the way between you and the door
    3. Before the meeting remove items from desk that may potentially cause harm to self or others (e.g. scissors)
    4. Alert another staff member of your meeting and if necessary invite another staff member to be present or in the vicinity
    5. If you're unsure or feel unsafe, you may request a UWS Campus Safety and Security Officer is present
  5. Strategies to use when communicating with concerning or distressed people include the DEFUSE and SUDS principles

DEFUSE and SUDS principles

Do stay calm
stablish some ground rules
ocus on positive outcomes
ncover what the person wants
peak slowly and listen
ncourage the person to seek options

tay calm
Use open, non aggressive body language
Do not raise your voice
Security should be contacted immediately on 1300 737 003