Helping A Friend

Do you have a friend whose attitude has changed, has major mode swings or seems to be distancing themselves? It's common for students to feel stress or overwhelmed in their college life at some point. Feeling homesick, family feuds, relationship issues, procrastination, pressure from exams and grades, trying to find a job or feeling alone are just a few common experiences that students go through in college. CAPS can help you manage these issues. But we understand that it can be difficult for your friend to come into CAPS to talk with a counselor about what they are feeling.

In many cases, it’s easier to express anger, embarrassment, depression or even thoughts of suicide to someone close. As a friend, your best support would be to refer them to CAPS counseling services. If you feel like the situation is an emergency, call 911. It’s better to be safe and make sure your friend has the help they need.

What signs indicate that I should refer my friend to Counseling at CAPS?

If you notice these signs, consider referring your friend to CAPS: 

  • Abrupt/radical changes in behavior, including a dramatic decrease in academic functioning
  • Isolation from others
  • Noticeable changes in mood, such as depression, apathy, or irritability
  • Poor attendance in classes
  • Sudden outbursts of anger
  • Attention/memory difficulties
  • Alcohol/drug abuse
  • Marked change in personal hygiene/appearance
  • Inappropriate crying
  • Bizarre statements or behavior
  • Suicidal statements

How do I talk with my friend about going to Counseling Services at CAPS?

Although it might feel intrusive or awkward to address these personal issues with your friend, more often than not they will appreciate your efforts in the long run. Tell them you would like to speak with them about the concerns you have and ask your friend to meet with you during lunch or a favorite activity together. In the course of sharing your concern, do not attempt to be the counselor, but do provide information and options about campus, community and virtual resources available. 

Guidelines for interacting your friend:

  • Be mindful of the student’s privacy.
  • Listen carefully; show concern and interest.
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
  • Suggest counseling services at CAPS as a resource. Offer to show them the CAPS website.
  • Explain that counseling and referral services at CAPS are confidential. Let them know that the counseling staff will not discuss their concerns with anyone (not even you) without their written permission.
  • If your friend resists help and you are still worried, contact CAPS to discuss your concerns.

How do I make a referral to a counselor at CAPS?

  • Provide your friend with the CAPS phone number (517) 355-8270 or website for further information.
  • Consider having your friend call CAPS at (517) 355-8270 from your dorm room or place of residence.
  • Follow up with your friend by asking whether they followed through with their appointment and how they felt about the session.

Can I call CAPS and make the appointment on my friend’s behalf?

No. We are unable to allow anyone other than the student to make an appointment at CAPS. You can be most helpful by encouraging your friend to make an appointment or by allowing them to call CAPS from your phone.

What should I do if my friend is in distress and needs immediate attention?

  • Let your friend know that they should call CAPS at (517) 355-8270 and identify themselves as needing immediate assistance. A phone or in-person consultation will occur on the same day.
  • If you want to be sure your friend makes the session, call CAPS while your friend is with you.
  • If you think the situation is an emergency, dial 911 before contacting CAPS. Do not delay attending to safety issues.
  • CAPS welcomes your calls at any time to talk about concerns about a friend or someone you know. CAPS staff can offer suggestions and ideas about referral options, resources and other ways to address your concerns.