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HELP A FRIEND
Help A Friend
How to Help a Friend
Are you concerned about a friend that has mood swings,
appears to be angry all of the time, worries all of the time, or seems to be
distancing themselves from others?
Trying to reach out to a friend that is having a difficult time can be awkward
and it is hard to know what to say and where to begin. Often, reaching out to a
friend can be the first step in getting him/her the right treatment and your
support and encouragement goes a long way.
Signs that a friend
might be struggling:
Seeing the following things might indicate a need to
encourage a friend to come to the Counseling Center:
- Abrupt/drastic changes in behavior
- Increasing isolation from others (refusing to leave the dorm, not talking to friends)
- Noticeable changes in mood, such as depression, apathy (not caring about anything), or intense irritability
- Poor attendance in classes, “giving up” on academics
- Inability to function (can’t get up in the mornings, always seems overwhelmed)
- Sudden outbursts of anger
- Excessive drug or alcohol use
- A painful break-up
- Significant change in personal hygiene/appearance (not showering or changing clothes)
- Inappropriate or frequent crying
- Bizarre, violent, or irrational statements or behavior
- Homicidal or Suicidal statements***
- Panic attacks or extreme anxiety
How can I talk with
my friend about going to the Counseling Center?
Although it may feel awkward to talk with a friend about
these personal issues, more often than not he or she will appreciate that you
cared enough to reach out to them. Find
a quiet, calm moment and tell them that you would like to talk with them. Let
them know you are worried about them and want to help. Try to listen, and
be as accepting as possible. Remember, you don’t have to fix their problems for
them, just help steer them to the right resources! Let them know that you
want to support them while they are having a difficult time, but that you think
it would be helpful for them to go to the Counseling Center. If he or she refuses, keep trying in future
conversations. Don’t give up! A good resource on how to talk with someone who is thinking of suicide is from The Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
If your friend is in crisis:1. Stay calm, and let your friend know that you feel he or she is in crisis.
2. Explain that you need some additional supports and call the Counseling Center at 412-397-5900. You can also stop by with them during business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM).
***If you feel the situation is an emergency, call campus police at 412-397-2424.
3. The counseling center welcomes you to call or stop in for information, and we can offer suggestions about how to approach your friend.
More Information on Supporting a Friend in Need
Active Minds - How to Help a Friend
Some guidelines to approaching a friend who may be struggling with a mental health problem.
Active Minds - Be a Friend [From the Beginning to Always]
Comprehensive resource on how to be there for a friend during every step of their journey with mental health issues. Includes info on active listening, what to watch for before a friend gets help, what to expect with different illnesses, veterans issues, how to be supportive when your friend is in counseling/the hospital/in recovery, and the importance of self-care.
Half of Us - Help a Friend
View videos of real-life stories and read tips on helping a friend who may be struggling.