Canterbury College - What to do If You're Worried About a Friend
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What to do If You're Worried About a Friend

Your college life should be a happy and productive one, and a great opportunity to meet new friends and make some fantastic memories.

However, it is possible that you may come across a situation where one of your friends is not acting like their usual self, and you may have some concerns about their behaviour. All of our students' mental health is extremely important.

Here’s what you can do to look out for your friends and their wellbeing.

Look out for warning signs

Is your friend quieter than usual? They once loved sport and were very active, and now they have little to no interest in it at all. Or maybe they were always making jokes and laughing and now you feel that they have become quieter and don’t tend to join in conversations as much as they used to. It could be that you notice they aren’t able to concentrate on their studies as much or they spend a lot more time sleeping or in the house when they used to always come out and socialise.

It’s important to notice changes in habits as it could be an early indication of mental health problems such as depression.

Talk things through

When you have a quiet moment with your friend, speak to them about your worries in a non-judgemental way. Let them know that you care about them, and that you are there to listen to any problems they may have. Make sure you do not blame them or make them feel bad for the way they feel. Remember to always be patient – they may not have answers as to why they are feeling the way they do or they may be confused about how they feel.

Offer support and guidance

If it feels right, you could gently encourage your friend to help themselves. For example, if they are spending a lot of time indoors, you could suggest that they come out for walks or a run if that is what they like doing. In other cases, your friend may just want some more company, but remember to stay patient and non-judgemental. If they are suffering from depression, recovery can be a long process and they may only feel able to make small steps.

Encourage your friend to speak to their tutor, or another member of staff, about their troubles and always let somebody know if you yourself are worried by a friend’s behaviour.



Stay in touch

Although you may feel slightly upset that your friend doesn’t seem to want to spend as much time with you, it is important to stay in touch. Invite them along to things as you would have before: they need your support now more than ever.

You could stay in touch by checking in on them by texting, messaging or calling them every few days. Suggest meeting up for coffee if you haven’t seen them in a while. A little company can go a long way.

Know when to ask for help

Hopefully, your friend's struggles will already be known to their tutor and the relevant people at the College who will be able to give them the support they need.

If you have any extremely urgent worries, you should contact NHS 111 or suggest to your friend that they contact the Samaritans for free confidential 24/7 advice.

Find out more about our Wellbeing and Safeguarding services here.