How to Help a Friend

If you notice a friend in distress, it is important to check-in and connect them to resources for support.

If you are concerned about a friend, here are some tips for how to be DIRECT and offer support:

  • Be mindful of the time and place. Talk to them in a private space where you both are comfortable and not rushed or preoccupied.
  • Be sincere. Share your concern in nonjudgmental and caring terms. Use “I” statements.
  • Be specific about your concerns. Share particular examples that are timely. Don’t wait weeks after a specific concern to bring it up.
  • Be an active listener. Pay attention with your body language as well as your words.
  • Be empathetic. Validate their feelings and believe them.
  • Be aware of campus resources. Make a referral to a professional who can help. Offer to go with your friend if that would be helpful.
  • Be consistent. Follow up with your friend and check in often, provide appropriate support, but know your own limits.

To be an active bystander and intervene with a friend in need: Use one of the 3 D’s:

DIRECT

DISTRACT

DELEGATE

Direct Intervention Example:

“Can I talk to you? I’ve been noticing that you look stressed lately and you haven’t been coming to dinner with us. You said you aren’t doing well in some of your classes and you don’t seem very happy. I’m worried about you. Can you tell me what is going on? I want to help if I can.”

There is a difference between distress and crisis.

As a friend, it is always helpful to offer support, a listening ear, and empathy to a friend in distress. If someone you know is in crisis, you should not attempt to handle it alone. The Crisis Response Team is available on campus for students that pose a imminent threat to self or others. Call Campus Safety at 610-409-3333 to get connected to the Assistant Director on Duty.  Click here for more details on additional emergency protocols from Campus Safety.