Find out how you can help another student so you can look out for each other.
Supporting another student
As students you are likely to be away from your families and support at home, so it’s important you look out for one another.
Sometimes you may notice that a friend is in distress or shows signs of having a problem.
You might be worried about getting involved and, although it’s important to try to be as kind and supportive of others as we can, it is right that you shouldn’t take too much responsibility on yourself. You can still show that you care.
Students will inevitably feel distressed at some point while at university but some may need professional help.
You may observe that someone:
- has stopped attending lectures and seminars, and/or withdrawn from all social contact
- appears to be continually stressed or anxious
- seems to be apathetic to everything
- shows signs of self harm
- shows signs of substance abuse
- displays a change in their personal hygiene or appearance
- is eating differently
- has recently been bereaved or experienced a life-changing event
- is suddenly behaving in an odd way or become paranoid.
Supporting someone in an emergency
If you’re with someone who needs medical help (such as after taking drugs) call an ambulance and tell the crew everything you know about the situation; it could save their life.
If you have any substances left over that the person took, hand them over to the crew as it may help. In most circumstances they won’t tell the police.
If you’re on campus call security, and they will call an ambulance for you and guide them onto campus. If you’re off-campus, call 999.
There are also things you can do to help someone who is having a non-emergency negative experience after using drugs.
How to be supportive for someone you know
It’s important to try to be as kind and supportive to others as we can, but if you’re worried about a friend it’s important to let someone know. Remember – it’s not your responsibility to fix their problems, but you can help them find support.
If you feel comfortable doing so, you should talk to them about your concerns.
Try to be sensitive – they may welcome the chance to open up or they may not want to talk about it.
Try not to give advice – listening attentively might be the best thing you can do for them.
To listen actively:
- choose somewhere quiet without interruptions where you can have a relaxed conversation–you could go for a walk
- use open questions such as “How are you feeling at the moment?” to open up the conversation. Try to avoid “Why” questions, which can appear judgemental
- reflect back what your friend is saying, to show that you’re listening, such as “It sounds as if what you’re saying is…”
- consider your body language – nod your head to show that you’re listening, and try not to cross your arms.
Look After Your Mate Workshop
We regularly deliver the Student Minds Look After Your Mate workshop here at Sussex. The workshop gives students the skills to offer support to friends.
Details of upcoming workshops will be posted here.