Impaired Colleague

You might notice a change in the appearance or behavior of a colleague that is concerning.  The change might involve a deterioration of usual functioning, a personality change, mood alteration, or change in habit.

Signs and symptoms of distress, impairment or trouble of a colleague may include any of the following:

  • Extreme anxiety or panic
  • Increased irritability, anger, rage, or other aggressive behavior
  • Conversations, e-mails, or other written material with themes of hopelessness, social isolation, rage, or despair
  • Bizarre, irrational, or paranoid thinking
  • Direct suicidal thoughts or statements
  • Expressing a wish or intent to injure others
  • Talk of guns, bridges, or other dangerous/violent subjects
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene, work performance, or social behavior
  • Alteration in thinking, judgment, organizing, following through, focusing, impulse control
  • Change in alertness, memory or concentration
  • Isolation or withdrawal, alienating members of their support systems or family
    • Excessive use of alcohol or other drugs
    • Increased use of sick time
    • Colleagues expressing fear, concern, or worry about a co-worker
      • Your ”gut sense,” that something is seriously wrong or dangerous, even if vague

What Can You Do?

If you find yourself worried or alarmed about an individual who is distressed, impaired or troubled,  you can speak with a behavioral health professional at the Faculty Staff Assistance Office.  Avoid making assumptions about what might be causing the change.   If an individual’s behavior appears to be an imminent threat to safety to themselves or others, please call the BU Police Department at 617-353- 2121 for the Charles River Campus and the Public Safety Office at 617- 414- 4444 for the Medical  Campus.