It is not uncommon that we notice a friend "acts different" sometimes. The change may be situational and temporary, but it may also indicate there is something going on in your friend's life which gets in his/her way.
Help may be needed if you notice:
- your friend spends a lot of time by him/herself, and prefers not to interact with others.
- your friend either looks "down" and "flat" for a prolonged period of time, or unusually "high", "energized", or irritable.
- your friend develops a pattern of eating a lot at one sitting, or not eating much at all. Similarly, it is also a red flag if you notice your friend sleeping through the day, or not getting much sleep at all.
- your friend increases the use of alcohol or other drugs.
- your friend expresses thoughts such as "I'd be better off being dead" or "not wanting to be here".
What to do:
- Reach out to your friend and take some time to listen. When someone is struggling, the best support you can give starts with a nice warm check-in. It may help your friend open up more if you try to attentively listen to what has been bothering him/her, without rushing to offer solutions.
- Encourage your friend to get professional help. If you think your friend may benefit from talking to a professor, an academic advisor, or a counselor, you can share with them the resources available on campus: www.mentalhealth.umn.edu
- Take what your friend told you seriously. If your friend expresses suicide thoughts or plans, do not wait for the "thought to pass". You should strongly encourage your friend to seek crisis counseling right away by calling Crisis Connection at 612-379-6363. You should also inform your CA in the residence hall, or call 911 if your friend is in imminent danger.
- Check in with your friend and see if things have changed. If things are not getting better, you should try to encourage your friend to get the help needed.
Watching out for a friend may take you extra time and effort. However, it usually makes someone feel more connected knowing that there is a friend thinking of them.