Below are a few ways you can begin talking to a friend who you may be concerned about:
WHAT TO SAY (& HOW TO SAY IT)
- Given that this may be a difficult conversation, try your best to talk in a private place and to have some time on your hands so that you don’t feel rushed.
- Begin by describing the specific behaviors that have raised your concern. You may have noticed something that seemed different to you, or is a change from how your friend usually behaves.
- A few examples of asking specific questions include:
“You haven’t been to class in a week” (this tells your friend they were missed AND is specifically expressing your concern to them) or
- “I can’t help but notice you’ve been upset or down a lot lately” or
- “You never want to hang out anymore.”
- “I am concerned about your drinking/drug use and want to help you.”
Listen to them without judgment or telling them what they should do. Be supportive and encouraging, and don’t feel insulted if they refuse to talk.
- Try to remain calm and show concern, but don’t feel like you need to know everything. Remember, this may be a difficult topic or time for someone who may be struggling, and they may feel embarrassed or ashamed. If a friend does not want to talk, don’t feel you didn’t help; you may have planted an important seed that lets them know someone cares and that help is available when they are ready.
If they do not want to talk or are not interested in getting help right now, make clear to your friend that:
- You are available if they change their mind or want to talk at a later time.
- You can take them to CAPS/their RA/a professor if they prefer to talk to a professional in private.
WHAT TO DO
- If your friend is open to the idea of getting help, tell them about CAPS as a confidential resource for students struggling with a variety of emotional or behavioral issues.
- If you are worried that your friend may be having difficulties with mental health related issues, you might suggest that your friend take an online self-assessment or that you look together at the CAPS website to decide what might be helpful to them as a next step.
- You can also call CAPS to consult with a mental health professional 24 hours a day (310-825-0768), either with your friend or without, to receive guidance and support.
- Some concerns may not be mental health related, in which case other campus resources may be able to provide assistance.