How to Help a Friend

Concerned about a Friend?

Everyone goes through periods of stress from time to time, but sometimes things can feel overwhelming. Signs that a student may be struggling could include dropping grades, withdrawing from friends, feeling overemotional or depressed, relationship difficulties, lack of interest in hobbies, changes in eating habits, excessive drug and/or alcohol use, or self-injurious behavior (cutting, burning, etc.). If you have a friend that is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, or you are concerned for other reasons, consider the following suggestions:

Express your concern
Talk to your friend in a private setting when you both have some time and distractions will be limited. Tell your friend that you are concerned about him or her in a straightforward way (something like, "I notice that you have slept through your morning classes all week long." or "You don't seem to be as happy as you usually are - is something going on?" or "You haven't seemed the same since you and Alex broke up."). Listen, and ask if there is anything you can do to help.

Refer to the Counseling Center
Talk to your friend about scheduling a free, confidential appointment with the Counseling Center, even if it is just one appointment to try it out. The Counseling Center helps students with a wide variety of issues - no concern is too small. Many students feel that having a counselor to talk to means they don't have to feel like they are burdening their friends or loved ones with their problems and find it helpful to get a neutral perspective on their life circumstances.

Get help for yourself
It is important that you be a good friend by keeping your own life in balance. Getting too wrapped up in your friend's life can cause you to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and have difficulty managing your own life. Scheduling an appointment with the Counseling Center for yourself is a good idea to help you maintain appropriate boundaries, practice self-care, and as a result, be the best support for your friend.

Need a consultation?
If you have a friend that you are concerned about but are unsure how to approach him or her or are having difficulty figuring out what to say, schedule a free consultation with the Counseling Center. We can help you brainstorm ways to approach your friend, as well as how to have a conversation with him or her.

Have a friend in crisis?
If your friend makes statements about seriously harming themselves or others, makes suicidal statements, call the Counseling Center at 507-389-1455 Monday through Friday during office hours. During evenings or weekends, call University Security at 507-389-2111, the Blue Earth County After Hours Emergency line at 507-304-4319, or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

If you believe your friend is in imminent danger to themselves or others, call 911 or University Security at 507-389-2111.