College is stressful for everyone, but you aren’t in it alone. We want to be able to support our friends when they are having difficult times or are feeling stressed out. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out how to talk to friends when we notice there may be a problem. It can also be hard to tell when a friend needs extra support, from just developing better stress management skills or if the person is dealing with a more significant problem.
Some common signs that a friend might need help include:
- Depression or sadness that interferes with obligations
- Inability to cope with day-to-day problems
- Extreme highs, shown by burst of energy, sleeplessness, or compulsive behavior
- Severe and frequent anxiety and stress
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
How do you respond?
Depending on your relationship with that person, you may be able to talk to the person one-on-one or you may want to let someone else know about the problem, like a professor or a resident assistant. Remember that you aren’t a therapist and you’re not responsible for solving your friend’s problems. However, you do want to be supportive of the person and encourage them to reach out to family, the counseling center, or another medical professional.
What do you say?
Try to be patient and supportive of your friend. Even if you don’t understand the problem, you can still be compassionate and listen. Here are some things you can say to a friend:
- We all go through tough times.
- You can feel better. Even though it doesn’t seem like it now, reaching out for help is a first step.
- It’s ok to ask for help. There are many resources available on campus to provide support for students.