How Students Can Help Other Students
We sometimes hear from students who are concerned about a fellow student's well-being. The student you are concerned about may be speaking or behaving unusually, or you may have noticed changes in his or her personal appearance. Here are some guidelines to follow when you are concerned about a friend on campus:
- Listen openly and offer empathic support. The most helpful thing you can do is communicate that you are there for your friend and are willing to help. (See tips below on how to talk to a friend who is struggling)
- Encourage friends of concern to reach out for support to on-campus resources (e.g. Residence Life, Academic Success Center, Dean of Students, Spiritual Life, Counseling Center) and off-campus support (e.g. family, home therapist, mentors, religious/spiritual resources). View our list of suggested resources here.
- Contact the Counseling Center to talk to a counselor about how to best help your friend. Even if your friend has asked you not to tell anyone about what is going on, you can talk to us without giving your friend's name*. For legal guidelines about when confidentiality can be broken, click here.
- Fill out a Student of Concern form if you would like a select group of professionals on campus to monitor the situation and intervene if necessary.
- If you are concerned about a Springfield College student who is in immediate physical danger, call public safety.
- Don't handle a crisis alone. Call family, friends, neighbors, people from your place of worship or people from a local support group to help.
*Remember, the Counseling Center cannot disclose personal information without student consent. However, we can listen to your concerns, which may help us support that student.
How to Talk to a Friend Who is Having a Hard Time
- Do make sure you have a quiet, private place to talk.
- Do stay calm and be present. Talk slowly and use reassuring tones. Encourage your friend to breath and take his or her time when talking.
- Do express that you care about your friend and are concerned.
- Do ask simple questions. Repeat them if necessary, using the same words each time.
- Do validate by repeating or paraphrasing what your friend is saying, or reflecting what your friend is feeling.
"I'm here." "I care." "I want to help." "How can I help you?" "I hear how difficult this has been." "I see that you are angry/sad/afraid."
- Don't have important conversations via text or on social media, or when you have been using substances.
- Don't express anger or frustration, even though you may have good reasons to feel annoyed at your friend.
- Don't threaten to call Public Safety unless you intend to do so. When you call Public Safety, police and/or ambulance are likely to come. This may make your friend more upset, so use this option only when you or someone else is in immediate danger.
- Don't invalidate by criticizing or minimizing your friend's experiences.
Don't say "Snap out of it." "Get over it." "Stop acting crazy." "There's nothing wrong."