Helping a friend

How you can assist others in need

It is very common for university students to experience feelings of distress, even if they do not have a mental health condition. However, those who do have mental health conditions can experience distress more frequently and intensely. Common signs that a friend might be experiencing distress include significant changes in behaviour, isolation or social withdrawal, signs of excessive drug or alcohol use, or feelings of hopelessness or despair. If you are friends with someone who may be in distress, you can play an important role in supporting their mental health.

Remember that it is not up to you to solve the problem or fix a friend in distress. Instead, offer your support in the following ways:

  • Expressing concern in a nonjudgmental manner
  • Empathetic listening
  • Supporting healthy behaviours
  • Finding out about available mental health services on-campus and self-help resources
  • Encourage your friend to seek help, and be prepared for different reactions
  • Consult Counselling Services for advice on how to help a friend who is resistant to support
  • Take care of yourself
  • Take threats of self-harm seriously