Supporting a Friend

Signs of a Friend in Need of Help

  • Mentions suicidal thoughts
  • Seems down or depressed frequently
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Has become socially isolated
  • Frequently misses class or other obligations
  • Substance Abuse
  • Has experienced a traumatic event
  • Expresses hopelessness
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Loses interest in hobbies or activities

Tips for Talking with a Friend About Your Concerns

  • Find a time to talk when neither of you is upset or tired.
  • Talk one-on-one with your friend, and speak only about your own concerns.  If other students express their concerns to you, encourage them to speak directly with the student.
    • “I’m worried about you.  You haven’t been to class this week.  Is anything going on?”
    • "The text message you sent me about not being able to take it anymore really worried me.  Can you tell me what’s the matter?  I really want to understand.”
    • “I’ve noticed you haven’t been eating much lately.  I’m concerned about you.  How are you doing?”
    • Express concern and support.  Avoid judgments and critical statements.

Signals that a friend needs support

  • Seems down or depressed frequently
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Has become socially isolated
  • Frequently misses class or other obligations
  • Substance Abuse
  • Has experienced a traumatic event
  • Expresses hopelessness
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Loses interest in hobbies or activities

Tips for Talking with a Friend About Your Concerns

  • Find a time to talk when neither of you is upset nor tired.
  • Talk one-on-one with your friend, and speak only about your own concerns.  If other students express their concerns to you, encourage them to speak directly with the student.
    • Here are some ways to start the conversation:
    • “I’m worried about you.  You haven’t been to class this week.  Is anything going on?”
    • "The text message you sent me about not being able to take it anymore really worried me.  Can you tell me what’s happening for you?  I really want to understand.”
    • “I’ve noticed you haven’t been eating much lately.  I’m concerned about you.  How are you doing?”

Express concern and support.  Avoid judgments and critical statements.
 

Support Judgement
Is anything going on?
It sounds like that really bothers you.
I miss going out with you. 
What's wrong with you?
You shouldn't worry about that.
You're no fun anymore.

 

Listen carefully to what your friend says.  

  • Focus your attention on what they are saying, rather than on what you’re going to say in response.  Check in with them to make sure that you understand what they’re saying.
  • “You’ve been through a lot lately.  No wonder you’re having trouble focusing.  You have a lot on your mind.”
  • “It sounds like you’re really angry/pissed off/hurt.”

Explore options.  

  • Help your friend identify friends, family, teachers, coaches, staff, counselors or clergy that they trust and who can provide short and long-term support.

Remember that you are their friend, not their therapist.  

  • The role you are playing is incredibly important and sometimes a person needs more help than their friends can provide.  When suggesting counseling to your friend, try using some of the following language:  
  • “Have you ever talked to a counselor about this?”
  • “The Counseling Center is open right now—I could walk over with you if you’d like.”
  • “We can email/call the Counseling Center right now and set up an appointment.”
  • “I really appreciate you telling me about this.  I’ll be here for you as your friend.  I also want to make sure you get all the support you need.  How about we call the Counseling Center and set up a time to talk with someone?”
  • If your friend has had a positive experience with counseling in the past, suggest that they speak with a counselor here at Rhodes.
  • If they have had a negative experience with counseling in the past, whether it was at home or here at Rhodes, validate their feelings.  Let them know that there a number of different counselors at the Counseling Center, and they can meet with a different counselor if they would like.

Follow up.  

  • Check in with your friend in the next day or two after you’ve talked with them.