Help A Friend
SHU 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Hotline: 973-275-Help (4357)
Call or text 988 to contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or chat online at 988lifeline.org.
Or text Talk to 741-741 for the Crisis Text Line.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
What to Do if Your 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 Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) office if it’s during normal business hours (Monday - Friday, 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 CAPS (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. Students can also contact the national Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988, or chat 988lifeline.org
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.
Did you know…67% of young adults tell a friend they are struggling before telling anyone else.
Signs a Student is Struggling
The Jed Foundation outlines the following warning signs that may signal a student is struggling and needs support:
- Chronic tardiness and/or lack of attendance
- Incomplete assignments
- Diminished motivation
- Poor hygiene
- Irritable, argumentative, and/or disruptive behavior in class
- Low and/or elevated mood
- Withdrawal from peers
- Excessive anxiety, worry or panic
- Suspected alcohol or drug use
- Difficulties focusing and concentrating
Self-destructive thoughts or behaviors
Don’t underestimate any of these signs. Early intervention can prevent a full-blown mental health crisis.
What to Do in a Crisis
- Stay Calm: When someone is in crisis, it is helpful to maintain a calm, steady presence. Speak slowly and clearly. This can often help your friend feel more relaxed.
- Actively Listen: Be an active listener and give your friend your full undivided attention. This is not a time for judgment or directives. Simply listen and offer comfort and support.
- Remind your friend that they are not alone. Walk them over to CAPS if it’s during normal business hours. You can also call CAPS at (973) 761-9500 or Public Safety (973-761-9300) for additional assistance. If it’s after hours, call the SHU 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 973-275-Help (4357).
- If they refuse campus services, call Public Safety or 911 and stay with them until help arrives.
- During regular office hours, Monday-Friday 8:45 a.m.- 4:45 p.m., call 973-761-9500 or drop-in to CAPS in Mooney Hall Room 27 to speak with an on-call counselor. Do not use e-mail in an emergency situation.
- Students with an urgent need to speak with a counselor may also choose to contact the SHU 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 973-275-Help (4357). This service is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week.
- After Hours and on weekends, students experiencing a psychological emergency should call CAPS at 973-761-9500 or the SHU 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 973-275-Help (4357) to speak immediately with a trained mental health counselor.
Signs a Friend May Be Struggling
When you know the warning signs, you can help your friend before they are in crisis. Your friend may be struggling if they show the following signs:
- 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
- Posting comments on social media such as, “I hate myself,” or “I suck at everything.”
- Using hashtags that are connected to topics you find unusual or worrisome for them (#overit #imdone #igiveup).
- Using sad, distressed emoticons or emoticons of destructive things such as guns and knives
Visit Seize the Awkward to learn more about warning signs and how to start a conversation with your friend when you’re concerned about their mental health.
What You Can Do
Learn ways to support your friend.
When you hover this appears: 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.
When you hover this appears: 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.
Brainstorm ideas and possible solutions.
When you hover this appears: 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. When you hover this appears: Help them expand upon their support network.
When you hover this appears: 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.
When you hover this appears: 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.
When you hover this appears: Counselors, psychologists, other healthcare providers can help. They can also help you find ways to help your friend.
Be honest with yourself and know your limitations.
When you hover this appears: Make sure you have the time and energy to give your friend before you agree to help.
Don’t take it on alone.
When you hover this appears: 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.
When you hover this appears: 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.
When you hover this appears: 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.
Helpful Articles & Resources
How and When to Start a Conversation with a Struggling Friend
Be willing to talk about mental health. If you’re concerned about your friend, tell them. Here are some tips to help you approach this difficult conversation. If you have experienced similar struggles, you can share some things that have helped you also.
How to Support a Friend With Mental Health Challenges
It’s hard to watch a friend struggle, but you may not be sure what to say or do. Check out these five ways to support your friend.
When You’re Worried About a Friend Who Doesn’t Want Help
What do you do if your friend won’t open up, makes light of their struggles or refuses help? The Jed Foundation has this advice.