How to Help a Friend
If you are concerned about a peer or student you know or have recognized some signs of distress , it’s important to understand there are many ways to help.
Listening attentively is one the most important things you can do.
If you don’t feel comfortable discussing this issue, you can:
- Contact Personal Counselling, Student Health Services or Aboriginal Services to ask for their advice on how to proceed.
- Encourage the student to seek help through one of the above on-campus services, connect with one of the 24 hour talk lines or refer them to a website such as More Feet on the Ground.
If you feel comfortable, here are some suggestions to help you become an effective supporter:
- Set up a time to talk that won’t be interrupted.
- Set a positive tone.
- Starting a conversation may be difficult. More Feet on the Ground has suggestion you may find helpful.
- Listen attentively.
- Express your concern and tell them you care.
- Point out specific behaviors you’ve observed and ask questions that show you care.
“I’ve notice lately
you’ve been staying in
your room a lot
and not watching t.v. with
the rest of us like we usually do…”
“I’m concerned because
when we’re together you
seem very distant.”
- Allow the student time to tell her/his story.
- Be patient and remember silence is okay.
- Focus on what the student is saying.
- Let her/him know you’re glad she/he is sharing her/his issue with you.
- Ask open-ended questions and encourage her/him to come up with solutions, for example:
“What do you think might help
in this situation?”
“Will you tell me about
the options you do have?”
- Let the student know you want to help, but remember you’re not a counsellor
- Remind her/him many students talk to a counsellor, doctor and/or nurse, whether they have a few concerns or many. Students say talking with a professional helps if they feel overwhelmed, depressed or are worried about any issue with their mental health.
Have your resources available:
Personal Counselling x4750
(to make an appointment with a counsellor)
Student Health Services x3243
(to book an appointment with the mental health nurse or a physician)
- It’s okay to take a “time-out” from the conversation if it gets too emotional. Acknowledge what’s happening and suggest taking a “time out.”
- Make a plan to return to the conversation at another set time.
- Before closing the conversation, make sure to direct her/him to the resources listed on this site.
- Set a followup time and let her/him know when she/he can contact you should they need anything.