Finding ways to support a friend

One of the things that makes us (Dean Wenner, Dean Kosses, and myself) incredibly proud is when a student talks about the support they received from another student. You all see each other (almost) every day, so you know when a friend is struggling in some way – in a class, at home, with a relationship, or a more personal difficulty. Here are some things to consider and ways to help a friend:

Listen.  Sometimes we just need that person who can listen to us talking about what’s wrong in our own words. Listen without judgement. If it were you, would you want to be criticized or analyzed?

Brainstorm solutions.  This is a collaborative effort. Offer a few suggestions and then ask, do any of those seem reasonable for you?

Be a distraction. Go enjoy some time together. Get their mind off of their current situation…even if only for as long as it takes for a good belly-laugh.

Know your limits. If you’re feeling unsettled or believe your friend’s difficulty is more than you can handle, get help.   There are some problems that can’t be tackled alone. Ask a mutual friend for their advice.

Know when to ask for support from a professional.  Issues such as substance abuse, violence, mental health, eating disorders can be very serious. Reach out to us or another staff or faculty member you trust. Know that based on what information you share, we may need to act to keep that person safe. This can be difficult….it’s hard not to feel that you may be violating your friend’s trust if you tell another person. Believe us…they will be grateful in the end. Yes, they may be upset with you at first, but after some time they will understand that you cared about them.

In the event of a real emergency, when the person’s safety is at risk, get help immediately. Call Public Safety at 617-989-4444 or 911.

A professional staff member in Residential Life is always on duty. Your RA or Public Safety can help you get in touch with them.

A counselor is also available. In the evening or on weekends, call 617-989-4390 to speak with a counselor. Public Safety can also assist with this.

Our friends looks to us for laughter, to be a partner-in-crime, to watch movies, to be completely goofy and totally vulnerable, to cry with, to talk us out of bad decisions, and to celebrate our successes. Sometimes, helping a friend makes all these other things even better.