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Supporting a Friend
We are all interconnected. The need to feel seen and heard is universal and listening with an open and nonjudgmental attitude is often enough when a friend or roommate is down. Please know, however, that it may not be; if that’s the case, lean on us! Please encourage your friend to come to OSA or reach out to Catherine Banson, YLS’ full-time, non-clinical wellness counselor. If your friend is reluctant or you’d like support, contact us so we may evaluate the situation together and decide on next best steps.
The following list from the National Alliance on Mental Illness highlights symptoms and behaviors that can indicate your friend or companion has a mental health issue and needs professional help:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don't exist in objective reality)
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia)
- Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomachaches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
Steps You Can Take
Start by expressing your concerns and offering compassionate listening. Explore if your friend or roommate is getting the care that they need. If not, remind the person that help is available and that mental health problems can be treated and connect them to help.
Encourage them to contact Yale Mental Health & Counseling (203-432-0290 or, after hours, 203-432-0123), Dean Cosgrove (203-432-7646) or Catherine Banson (203-432-2366). If your friend seems reluctant, offer to accompany them as they make the call or come to one of our offices.
For more guidance on how to talk about mental health, read this article.
A Word about Suicide
If a friend or someone you know has mentioned or is contemplating harming themself, take action. Stay with them and help them remove lethal means.
If someone has attempted to take their life or is in imminent or immediate danger of taking their life, dial 911. If you are on or near campus you can also call Yale Police at 203-432-4400.
If you are concerned about a student who is not in any immediate danger of harming themselves:
- Contact Dean Cosgrove at 203-432-7646 or wellness counselor Catherine Banson at 203-432-2366
- Call Yale Mental Health & Counseling at 203-423-0290 from 8:30-5:00 M-F for a consultation on how best to help. After hours, call Acute Care at 203-423-0123 and ask to speak with a counselor.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255; deaf and hard of hearing: 800-799-4889; chat
- Infoline Crisis Services in Connecticut: Dial 211
- Crisis Text Line: Text 741741
Remember Your Own Well-being
Supporting a friend or roommate can take a toll on you. Please know that even as you encourage them to seek help, you are not responsible for their decisions or emotional or mental states. To bolster your own well-being, please do not hesitate to come to any member of OSA or make an appointment with wellness counselor Catherine Banson to discuss the situation. We can help you meet your own needs as you try to help your friend.