Helping a Friend
The life of a college student involves opportunity, excitement, and stress. While experiencing everyday ups and downs is a part of life, some students encounter difficulties that interfere with their functioning. You may have noticed a friend dealing with problems, and wondered, “What can I do to help?”
One of the best ways you can provide support for your friend is simply by being willing to listen in an open and non-judgmental way. You can also help by spending time with your friend. Seeing a movie together, meeting for lunch, working out at the Fitness Center - whatever activities you and your friend typically enjoy can provide an emotional boost during times of difficulty.
It’s also important to recognize the limits of what help you can provide. In some cases, a friend may be experiencing distress that calls for professional help. Some of these signs of distress include:
Persistently depressed, irritable, or anxious mood
Changes in behavior - e.g. becoming more quiet or withdrawn
Changes in appetite, and/or weight changes
Changes in sleeping patterns
Academic difficulties - e.g. falling grades, skipping classes, low motivation
Loss of interest in previously-enjoyed activities
If you notice your friend experiencing some of the signs listed above, you may want to encourage him or her to seek additional help. Counseling Services is available to provide individual and couples therapy for students at UMSL. We can also assist students who are in a state of crisis. In order to schedule an appointment, a student can simply call or come by Counseling Services in 131 Millennium Student Center during regular office hours. (8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.) If you'd like, you can offer to accompany your friend to our office for their first appointment. After hours or on weekends, crisis assistance is available through Life Crisis Services- (314) 647-HELP. For those who live in the residence halls, crisis assistance can also be accessed by notifying the residence hall staff.
Click here for more information on suicide prevention and helping a friend.
Counseling Services' staff counselors are available to consult with students who are concerned about a friend. If you are feeling overburdened and are wondering how to assist your friend, or wondering whether your friend could benefit from counseling, feel free to call us at the phone number below,