You may have a feeling that someone you know isn't OK, and may benefit from counselling.
The person you're worried about may be facing challenges at university, relationship issues, difficult family situations, loneliness, depressed mood or anxiety, the death of a loved one, or other situations which are impacting on their personal wellbeing or everyday life. They may also be distressed or simply not seem like themselves without being able to identify a cause.
What you can do to support someone
- Approach the person with your observations, and express your care and concern.
- Listen to the person - try your best to set aside judgement, and don't rush to fix or advise.
- Ask the person "How can I help?".
- Encourage them to link in with other people in their support network, consider helpful ways they have coped in the past, and what actions they could take now.
- Encourage them to seek professional help if necessary.
- Be realistic about what you can offer - don't get involved beyond your boundaries or role.
- Remember to look after yourself.
Referring someone to Counselling and Psychological Services
If you think someone could benefit from counselling, it can be helpful to gently raise the idea of seeing a counsellor with them.
You could say: "One option in your situation could be to talk to someone at the Counselling or Health Service. It's free and confidential. Have you considered that idea?"
You can direct them to this website for information and/or booking an appointment.
What if the person doesn't want help?
Taking the step to seek help can be challenging and daunting for some people. While it can be tough to watch someone you care about struggling, it is difficult for counselling to work effectively unless a person is willing and ready to get help.
If the person is reluctant, try to find out why they feel that way. Unless there are immediate risks, it is important to respect the person's wishes. Let the person know that you are open to talking again with them, and check in at a later time. Continue to be supportive and patient with the person in the meantime.
While it's generally a good idea to give someone time and space to come around to getting help, if you are concerned that someone is in danger or at risk of harm, it's important to seek help immediately.
Please call us if you are uncertain about making a referral or you are worried about someone. If you are concerned about the seriousness or urgency of a problem but the person is unwilling to be referred, you can discuss it with us.
If you are a staff member worried about a student, please refer to our students at risk page.