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Helping A Friend

Steps A Sound Mind Suggests

As members of the Auburn Family, we all pledge to do our best looking out for each other.If you are looking to help a friend with a mental health concern and seek help, A Sound Mind suggests going through the following steps:
  1. Look for warning signs that signal someone is in distress.
  2. Listen, ask open-ended questions, and find out what is really going on with your friend.
  3. Offer hope, encouragement, and support in a non-judgmental way.
  4. Connect your friend to professional resources.
  5. Even once your friend is getting help, check-in with them to see how things are going and support your friends as they work to maintain good mental health.

Step by Step Instructions

Below are some common warning signs a friend may be in distress:

  • Noticeable loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Significant, usually quick weight loss or gain
  • Resistance to hanging out with friends; isolating
  • Noticeable change in sleeping patterns—either not sleeping at all or for most of the day
  • Absence from classes, other required events
  • Risky, violent behavior
  • Verbalizations of concern (e.g., “The world is better off without me;” “Things are tough…I ought to just end it,” etc
  • Starts with BEING QUIET
  • Resist the urge to ask closed questions
  • Resist the urge to fill silence with speech
  • Resist the urge to give advice
  • Resist the urge to fix the “problem” without knowing what it actually is
  • Make sure non-verbals convey openness
  • Paraphrase what the person is saying to let them know you hear them
  • Be honest and direct
  • Use “I” and “we” statements
  • Pick a safe space to talk and keep it one-on-one
  • Give it time.  Be there for as long as the person needs
  • Remain calm and open
  • Help the person develop specific ways to feel better and hopeful

If you suspect that the person is feeling overwhelmed to the point that they may be thinking about suicide, ask the question, “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”  (link to QPR)

If an AU student, Student Counseling & Psychological Services (link)

If not, Psych Services Center (link)

Crisis: SCPS for students (link to crisis page); National Suicide Prevention hotline (1-800-273-TALK; link); Crisis Text Line (741-741; link)

  • Once referred to a resource, ask them how it is going
  • Self-disclose as you are comfortable about your own experiences
  • Offer encouragement, especially if someone has a setback
  • Keep working to relate to them, about anything and everything
  • A person’s recovery has ups and downs and is different per person

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Last modified: 10/15/2019