Baylor > Counseling Center > Resources > Student Resources > Resources for Friends
Resources for Friends
If you think your friend needs help, please walk with them to the Counseling Center or call 254-710-2467. The Counseling Center is located on the 2nd floor of the SLC.
Friends Helping Friends
Often when a student is struggling with relationship issues, academic issues, family or financial stressors, feeling overwhelmed, questioning life, etc. their roommates and friends are often the first people who notice or who the student turns to. It is your choice, on how involved you want to be, to help your friend seek help.
Some things to consider when choosing to help someone in distress:
In helping someone else get help, recognize the limit of what you can and can't do:
• In dealing with a student who is having a mental health issue, your own safety and wellbeing are just as important as that of the person in distress. Recognizing the limits of what you can and can’t do to help someone else is a crucial part of this. When responding to a person in need, you don’t have to do it all alone! When in doubt about how to handle a crisis situation, you can always contact the Baylor University Counseling Center (254) 710-2467 and consult with a counselor.
What you can do:
• Be genuinely concerned and supportive
• Be honest with yourself about how much time and effort you can afford to spend in helping
• Be aware of your own needs and seek support for yourself
• Maintain and respect healthy boundaries.
What you can’t do:
• Control how another person is going to respond to you
• Decide for another person whether or not they want help or want to change.
Other people to reach out for consultations, not sure what to do:
Resident Hall Directors/Resident Chaplains
BoBo Spiritual Life Center
Student Life Case Manger
When A Friend is in Distress:
Although everyone feels “stressed” at times, excessive stress or distress, can manifest itself in a number of ways.
Although the following list is by no means all-inclusive, you should suspect that a person might be distressed if you see any of the following that applies to him/her:
• Trouble sleeping
• Vague physical aches and pains and/or lack of energy
• Loss of interest in activities that your friend has once enjoyed
• Depressed or lethargic mood
• Lack of motivation
• Excessive tension or worry
• Restlessness, excessive energy
• Excessive alcohol or drug abuse
• Decline in academic performance; drop in class attendance
• Social withdrawal
• Changes in eating patterns
• Self-injury (cutting; scratching; burning)
• Unusual or exaggerated response to events (overly suspicious; overly agitated; easily startled)
HOW TO HELP: Supporting a friend with a mental health concern can be one of the most important parts of their success in dealing with it. These suggestions are to help you to know what to do for a distressed person you are concerned for or if they come to you.
1. Take the person aside and talk to them in private:
Try to give the other person your undivided attention. Just a few minutes of listening might enable them to mad a decision about what to do.
2. Listen carefully and with sensitivity:
Listen in an open minded and nonjudgmental way.
3. Be honest and direct, but nonjudgmental:
Share what you have observed and why it concern you. For example, “It sounds like on the one hand, you very much want to please your family but on the other hand you aren’t’ sure that what they want for you is what you really want to do.
4. Make a referral:
Direct the person to the Baylor University Counseling Center (BUCC). Encourage him or her to call and make an appointment right then and there. You can also offer to accompany them to counseling center if you want to.
5. Follow up:
Let the person know that you’ll be checking back with them later to see how things turned out.
6. Responding in a caring way:
Being a person who cares and responding to them in a caring way most times will help prevent the distressed person’s situation from escalating into a crisis.
When a friend is in Crisis:
A crisis is a situation in which a person’s coping mechanisms are no longer working. By definition, it is a highly unpleasant emotional state. The nature of a crisis can be highly subjective and personal, and its severity can range from mild-to life-threatening. But regardless of its nature, a crisis should always be taken seriously and responded to as swiftly as possible. What a person is in a state emotional crisis, you might see or hear the following:
• Extreme agitation or panic
• References to or threats of suicide, or other types of self-harm
• Threats of assault, both verbal and physical
• Highly disruptive behavior: physical or verbal hostility; violence; destruction of property
• Inability to communicate (for example, slurred or garbled speech; disjointed thoughts)
• Disorientation; confusion; loss of contact with conventional reality
What You Should Do:
If someone you know is exhibiting some of the above behaviors-particularly if you believe there exists imminent danger that the person might harm self or someone else – you should immediately call for assistance:
Baylor Police 254-710-2222 (on campus)
911 Call (off campus)
If you are unsure how to respond to the situation call the Baylor University Counseling Center phone number: (254) 710-2467.
Protect your own safety and wellbeing:
You should not take it upon yourself to approach someone who is highly agitated or violent or decide by yourself what is in the person’s best interests. For your safety – as well as that of others and the person in distress – those decisions should be left to trained professionals.
7. If you suspect your friend may have suicidal thoughts or is suicidal:
Suicide Warning Signs:
Warning signs are specific behaviors that could indicate someone may be thinking about suicide. Recognizing warning signs is an important first step in being able to help your friend. The more warning signs you see, the more likely it is that your friend may be thinking about suicide.
People may give direct as well as indirect verbal cues about their suicidal thoughts. They typically communicate feelings of being trapped, helpless and hopeless. Direct verbal cues are clear statements expressing suicidal thoughts, such as “I’m thinking about killing myself”, while indirect verbal cues serve more as hints that a student is thinking about suicide. These can be statements like “Things will be better when I’m gone,” “The pain will never stop unless I do something,” or “I want to go to sleep and never wake up.” Students may express these verbal cues on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. No matter which medium your friend uses to express these verbal cues, they should always be taken seriously.
Warning Signs Include:
• Feelings or statements of hopelessness
• Rage, anger, seeking revenge
• Feeling trapped
• Increased alcohol or other drug use
• Withdrawal from others
• Anxiety, agitation or sleep problems
• Dramatic mood changes
• Feelings or statements that reflect not having a reason to live or a sense of
• Threatening to hurt or kill themselves
• Looking for ways to kill themselves; seeking access to pills, weapons or other
• Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide (If it is out of the ordinary)
If you notice these warning signs in your friend, it is very important that you ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide.
• Ask direct questions
“Are you thinking about suicide? “Are you thinking of killing yourself? If you can’t ask the question, find someone who can.
• Stay by their side
Never leave someone alone who is showing suicidal warning signs.
• Call a professional
Remember, your job is to try to get someone to the help they need, not be the help they need. Call the Baylor Police (254) 710-2222
Call the Baylor Counseling Center (254) 710 – 2467 (24 hours/7days a week)
• Don’t keep secrets about suicide
Telling someone that you’re worried about a friend can be hard to do, especially if they’ve asked you not to tell. Saving a life is more important than keeping a secret out of fear of losing a friendship.
When you are not sure what to do, what to say, who to call for help or support contact:
Your Community Leader (CL) or Residence Chaplain
Bo Bo Spiritual Life Center
Baylor Counseling Center
Student Life Case Manager
Your friend tells you that they have recently been sexually assaulted.
If you friend disclosed to you that they have been recently sexually assaulted,
• Be supportive:
There are many ways to be supportive and the first step in supporting a survivor is to
BELIEVE them. Allow the survivor to tell you what happened in their time and their words, don’t press for details, descriptions, names.
Communicating the following messages with the survivor can increase their openness in disclosing to others in the future:
“I believe you.”
“Help is available”
Allow the survivor to tell you what happened in their time and their words.
As a friend, it is important that you LISTEN to what the survivor tells you. Be non-judgmental and non-blaming. You weren’t there; the survivor only knows what it was like. Let them tell you what they want, when they want. It is more important to listen than to talk or give advice.
• Be Non-Judgmental:
Getting a judgmental response often decreases one’s desire to reach out to others and may hamper the survivors healing from the assault. Your jog as a concerned other is not to judge, or say what you would have done differently, but to be supportive and appropriately attentive to the individual.
• Help in Gaining Safety:
Asking the survivor questions like “what would help you feel safer?” can reveal options for increasing safety. The survivor may want you to stay the night, stand outside the door when using a bathroom, accompany them to the hospital medical facility, or counseling office, help them mad a report to police or screen calls.
• Seek support for yourself. Become aware of your feelings about the trauma and the stress of supporting your loved one. It is best to avoid communication your biases and negative emotions to the survivor. However, it may become important for you to speak with someone about how you are feeling.
• Help them to seek assistance:
Baylor University Counseling Center (254) 710-2467
Baylor University Health Center (254) 710-2499
Baylor University Police (254) 710-2222
Case Manager of Student Life (254) 710-1761
Title IX Coordinator (254) 710-8454
Spiritual Supportive Help:
Bo Bo Spiritual Life Center (254) 710-3517