Worried About a Student?

How do I know if someone’s struggling?
You may be the first person to see signs that a student is in distress, and it’s important to pay attention to warning signs.

Some common signs of distress include:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Apathy or loss of interest
  • Uncharacteristic changes in mood
  • Substance misuse
  • Unusual behaviour
  • Decline in sleep or personal hygiene
  • Suicidality or self-harming behaviour
  • Sleeping MORE

What can I do to help?

Express your concern.  Let the person know that you’re worried about them, and tell them what you’ve noticed that raised your concern.

Invite them to talk.  Ask them if they would like to share with you what’s going on that’s troubling them.  If they want to talk with you, then your job is to listen without judgment and reflect back to them what you’ve heard to make sure you’re understanding them correctly.  You don’t have to have the answers, and it’s usually best not to jump in with unasked-for advice.  Ask questions instead of offering opinions.  Respect their choice if they don’t want to talk about how they’re feeling.

Help them find help.  If they feel that they need more support than they currently have, you can brainstorm with them what they need and where they might get it.  It may be helping them identify friends or family they could reach out to, or it may be helping them to access UNB Counselling Services or other resources.

Remember your role.  You may be a friend, a coworker, a parent, a classmate, a romantic partner or a stranger on the bus.  You may be close or barely acquaintances.  If you’re reaching out to someone you’re concerned about it’s important to remember that there are some limits to your role as a support person.  It’s not your job to diagnose them, to solve their problem, or to make decisions for them.  Your role is to start the conversation and offer what hope and help is within your ability to give.
It’s okay to have limits and to set boundaries.  Sometimes someone you’re supporting may need more than you can give.  Be clear about your boundaries and limits, about what you can and cannot, will and will not do to help them.

Respect for privacy ends where risk of harm begins. It’s important to respect people’s privacy as a general rule – they’re trusting you with vulnerable personal information by opening up to you.  There are times when it’s necessary to break that bond of privacy.  If someone you’re supporting tells you that they’re considering suicide it’s important to make the connection to professional supports like Counselling Services.  Similarly, everyone has a legal obligation to report any suspected concerns about children and youth under the age of 19 who are victims of or at risk of abuse or neglect.  Concerns can be reported to the Ministry for Children and Families <hyperlink to MCF child protection contact page>.

Resources:
UNB Counselling Services
CC Jones 2nd Floor
(506) 453-4820

UNB Campus Security (after-hours)
506-453-4820

CHIMO Helpline (after-hours)
506-450-HELP (4357)
1-800-667-5005