How To Help a Friend

It’s common for students to feel stressed or overwhelmed at some point during their time at college. Feeling homesick, family stresses, relationship issues, academic pressures, trying to find a job, and/or feeling alone are just a few of common issues that students experience while in college. As a friend, you may be one of the first people to notice if your friend is struggling or experiencing difficulties. Below are some guidelines about what to do if and when this situation arises.

The following signs may indicate a need to refer your friend to Counseling Services:

  • Abrupt/radical changes in behavior, including a dramatic decrease in academic functioning
  • Isolation from others
  • Noticeable changes in mood, such as depression, apathy, or irritability
  • Poor attendance in classes
  • Sudden outbursts of anger
  • Alcohol/drug abuse
  • Marked change in personal hygiene/appearance
  • Chronic or prolonged sadness, crying spells
  • Bizarre statements or behavior
  • Suicidal statements
  • Loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities
  • Marked decline in academic motivation or performance
  • Excessive sleeping (or inability to sleep)
  • Noticeable weight loss, unhealthy eating habits (e.g., binging, purging, restricting intake), excessive exercise
  • Deliberate cutting or other self-injury.

How do I make a referral to Counseling Services?

  • Initiate a conversation with your friend in a private setting
  • Listen carefully; show concern and interest.
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
  • Suggest Counseling Services as a possible resource and discuss this with your friend.
  • Explain to your friend that Counseling Services are confidential
  • Provide your friend with Counseling Services’ phone number: 717-361-1405 or direct him/her to our website for further information.
  • Offer to accompany your friend to Counseling Services to make an appointment.
  • Follow up with your friend by inquiring as to whether she/he followed through with their appointment.

Can I make an appt for my friend?

We prefer that students set their own appointments for counseling. We find that students are generally more engaged in the counseling process if they take the initiative to make their own appointment.

What should I do if my friend is in distress and immediate attention is needed?

  • Let your friend know that they should call Counseling Services at 717-361-1405 and identify her/himself as needing immediate assistance.
  • You can walk with your friend to Counseling Services and wait while she/he meets with a counselor.
  • If you consider the situation to be an emergency or you sense there is a threat of safety to your friend or someone else, dial Campus Security at 717-361-1111 to seek immediate assistance before contacting Counseling Services.