Seton Hall University

Helping a Friend in Need

Signs That your Friend May Need Help…

  • Chronic procrastination
  • Missing classes
  • Decreases in academic performance
  • Socially Withdrawn
  • Sleep changes; need for more sleep or need for less
  • Appetite changes
  • Deteriorating hygiene and overall self-care
  • Irritability; frequent arguments and conflicts
  • Binge drinking or drug use
  • Self-injurious behavior
  • Excessive worry, anxiety, fear, or panic
  • Feelings of hopeless, worthlessness, and/or thoughts of suicide
  • Recent losses
  • Low energy
  • Frequent physical symptoms (headaches, stomachaches, muscle pain)
  • Risky sexual activity
  • Mood swings

Things You Can Do…

  • Learn ways to support your friend. Kognito is a digital suite of online simulations designed to build confidence in students, faculty and staff when faced with students in distress. Key simulations include Alcohol & Other Drugs Education, Sexual Misconduct Prevention, and At-Risk Mental Health for Students. Log onto PirateNet and click the Kognito chicklet/app to access the simulations. 
  • Listen actively and fully and offer your support.  Take time out and make sure you can be attentive on what your friend is saying.  Encourage them to talk.  Clarify what they are saying. Reflect your friends’ feelings.  Be compassionate and validate their feelings and experiences.  Keep your own feelings and advice in check.Be compassionate and validate their feelings and experiences.
  • Brainstorm ideas and possible solutions.  Play out possible alternatives and weigh the pros and cons of each. Help your friend make a decision that works best for them and offer your support.
  • Encourage your friend to seek out resources and talk to other friends and family. Help them expand upon their support network.
  • Pay attention.  Do not ignore it. Instead approach your friend and without judgment, let your friend know that you are concerned about their well-being.  Expressing your concern demonstrates that you care!
  • Express your feelings with “I” statements. Focusing on specific behaviors is often a good approach: “I’m concerned about your drinking lately.” “I’m worried about how sad you seem.” “I want to be able to offer you my support.”
  • Educate yourself about resources available to your friend. Counselors, psychologists, other healthcare providers can help.  They can also help you find ways to help your friend.
  • Be honest with yourself. Know your limitations. Make sure you have the time and energy to give your friend before you agree to help.
  • Don’t take it on alone.  You may not feel qualified to help your friend with their problems.  Learn about resources on campus such as counseling, health services, mentoring, and/or spiritual guidance.
  • Establish trust. Protect your friend’s confidentiality and keep what is said between the two of you unless your friend or others are in danger.
  • Stay in touch.  Keep in regular contact with your friend and encourage them to talk to you or other friends so that they establish a strong support network.

What if My Friend Wants to Try Counseling?

Seton Hall offers free and confidential counseling to matriculated undergraduate and graduate students. CAPS offices are located in Mooney Hall on the 2nd floor, room 27.  Hours of operations are 8:45 a.m. – 4:45 p.m., Monday through Fridays.

If your friend is interested in counseling, an intake appointment can be made by calling (973) 761-9500. The intake appointment lasts about an hour and allows the clinician to gather relevant information and assess your friend’s needs. Following the intake assessment, the counselor will discuss available treatment options which may include participating in brief individual counseling or in a counseling group or other options.

Remember that you do not need to take on your friend’s problems all by yourself. There are many resources available to help on campus. Please feel free to reach out to CAPS if you wish to connect your friend with counseling.

What if My Friend Is In Crisis?

If you are with a friend in crisis, it is always recommended that you and/or another student bring your friend over to our office if during normal business hours (8:45 a.m. –4:45 p.m.). If you are unable to do so, and have concerns about your friend’s safety, you can call Counseling Services (973-761-9500) or Public Safety (973-761-9300) for additional assistance. After hours, students experiencing a psychological emergency should call SHU 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 973-275-Help (4357) to speak with a trained mental health counselor at 973-275-Help (4357). 

If you or a friend are having serious thoughts of killing yourself or hurting someone else go to the nearest Emergency Room or call 911.