We can often pick up on changes in our friends' or classmates' mood or behaviour. As a community it's important that we look out for each other and support our friends to find help if they need it. This page will help you:
You might be concerned about somebody if:
- They tell you they have a problem that's getting them down
- There's a sudden change in their appearance, especially weight loss or hygiene
- You're aware that they regularly make themselves vomit after eating
- They've threatened or attempted suicide or have threatened or been violent to someone else
- They've told you or you've noticed that they're self-harming - e.g. cutting their arms or other parts of their body
- They've been excessively or increasingly using alcohol and/or drugs
- Their mood has changed recently - they seem particularly unhappy or withdrawn, or racing and excited the whole time
- They're behaving in bizarre ways, for example being overly paranoid
- Other people are also concerned about them
- They have gone missing
Encourage them to seek help
If you’re worried about someone’s welfare and they may need urgent support, please encourage them to contact someone else for help. You can also ask for advice yourself. Here are some options:
- If it’s an emergency, always call 999, even if you’re not sure what kind of help is needed. They can decide if it’s an emergency or not. You can also call NHS 111 for advice.
- Speak to a trusted member of staff who may know the student, e.g. a warden in their hall or a member of their department
- Ask for advice and help from the Student Wellbeing Service, who can offer support from a counsellor or Mental Health Adviser.
- Ask for a same-day appointment from their GP
Getting support from the Student Wellbeing Service
Students often find it helpful to be able to speak to a counsellor, mental health adviser or peer supporter.
- Counsellors can offer students a helpful different perspective, as someone outside of their normal day-to-day life. They have good skills in understanding psychological and emotional difficulties, and can also help people work out practical approaches to manage a difficult situation better.
- Mental Health Advisers have specialist skills in supporting students with mental health difficulties, as well as helping to manage crisis situations.
- Some students may prefer to speak to a Peer Supporter. These students are trained by the Student Counselling Service to offer confidential listening and support to other students. They can be contacted directly through their website
The Student Wellbeing Service can sort out who is the best member of their team to work with a student.
How to talk to someone who’s having a difficult time
- Be willing to listen and offer supportive understanding. This is often as helpful as any direct advice that you can give. Your friend may have been waiting for an opportunity to talk to someone, and sometimes this is enough for people to then start to feel better.
- There's no need to avoid talking about the situation. It's okay to talk to your friend and tell them you are concerned, but at the same time, you don't want to make them talk about the situation the whole time.
- Don't forget about your own wellbeing when trying to support someone else. You need to make sure you can look after your own emotions, and you're not expected to give up all your time and energy to help another person.
- As well as offering your own listening and support, you can suggest they seek help from other services, including: Samaritans, who offer free 24/7 support by email or on the phone if you’re struggling to cope; Shout, a free 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis (text Shout to 85258); and Nightline,a confidential and anonymous listening and practical information service run by students for students, offering support via phone, email and text.
- Offer to keep in touch to see how they are getting on, and be willing to speak to someone else in the School if you are still worried about the other person.
- Don't take responsibility for your friend's problems. It's not up to you to solve their difficulties.