Helping A Friend In Distress

You’re concerned about a friend, roommate or family member and wondering what you can do to help.

Helping A Friend

Top 5 things that you can do to help a friend who may be struggling
  1. Consult with university resources including the Counseling Center
  2. In a caring way, share your concerns
  3. Listen and be supportive
  4. Assist them in getting help
  5. Obtain your own support

If you are concerned for the student’s safety, seek out assistance from Towson University staff member immediately. If you live on campus, consider speaking with your RA or another Housing and Residence Life Staff Member. Any student may contact the Counseling Center for help in determining next steps.

Steps for initiating a conversation with a student

When considering approaching someone who is struggling, it’s common to experience discomfort. It is helpful to keep in mind the goal of the intervention: to assist your friend with obtaining access to help.

  1. The conversation should take place in a private setting.
  2. Begin by expressing concern for your friend’s well-being, or safety if relevant. Share examples, maybe things that your friend has done or said.
  3. Allow space for your friend to respond to your concerns. Listen carefully, demonstrating empathy and a non-judgmental attitude.
  4. Share information about campus resources, encouraging your friend to make appointments as soon as able. Be willing to help your friend make these appointments. If your friend doesn’t want to seek services on campus, help them find options off campus. The Counseling Center’s Community Providers Database might be helpful.
  5. Check in periodically to offer additional encouragement and support.
  6. Supporting someone who is struggling can be draining particularly if you’re not careful with your own needs. Seek out your own support by talking with family, and friends. Consider seeing out your own counseling.

A consultation with the Counseling Center may provide more individualized suggestions and an opportunity to practice the intervention.