Helping a Friend in Distress

  • Offer support, and be aware of your limits. 
  • Sometimes, it becomes clear that something just isn’t right in the life of a friend. 
  • You can help by expressing your concerns in a caring way.
  • When you help another person, it is important to remember the limits of what you can provide, and to be aware of your boundaries and comfort level. 
  • Find a comfortable place to talk in person – these kinds of conversations should not be had over text, phone, social media, etc.
  • In your own words, explain your concerns, without diagnosing or judging the problem. “You seem sort of down lately” as opposed to “I think you may be clinically depressed.”
  • Ask open-ended questions. “I notice that you seem different” as opposed to “I saw you go into the bathroom and purge after lunch.” 
  • Listening and expressing support are enough. A solution won’t be found at this time Suggest that your friend can get more help if needed. 
  • Offer to call the Counseling Center with your friend to make an appointment, to walk her over, or to meet with a counselor with her for the first session. This happens often and is not a problem at all. 
  • Know your own limits. If you find yourself thinking about your friend too much, or being asked to take on too much responsibility for his or her care, there are many people you can go to for assistance. Please consider speaking with someone such as an RA, or with someone in the Counseling Center. Counselors can help you figure out how to address the situation while maintaining your privacy and your friend’s privacy.

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