Concerned about a loved one, friend or classmate – learn how you can help.

If you are concerned about a friend, partner, or classmate, there are several options that can help you. The first step is always to talk directly to the person you are concerned about. Reaching out to resources on their behalf, without their knowledge, can often disrupt or even end a relationship. Having their consent to help is almost always the best way to maintain a healthy relationship. That said, in some cases a friend may be resistant to help, and your concern for them is very serious. In those cases, it may feel necessary for you to reach out to someone with more expertise in these matters. Here are some campus resources you can offer to your friend or, if necessary, consult on your friend’s behalf.
  • CAPS is available for mental health concerns, substance abuse concerns, suicide prevention, and/or processing your own feelings about what your friend is going through and what they may be asking of you.
  • The Title IX office is available for situations of sexual assault, harassment, stalking, or discrimination.
  • Public Safety is available for emergencies, criminal activity, dangerous situations, and any after-hours urgent concerns. If you are calling due to a mental health crisis after hours, they will contact the CAPS counselor on call.
  • RISD Rides is available for safe transportation between the hours of 5pm and 3:15am.
  • OISS is available for international student concerns such as immigration issues, cultural adjustment, language services, and student visas.
  • Disability Services is available for time management help, student accommodations, and accessibility needs.
Some things you might say:
  • “What has helped when you’ve felt down in the past?”
  • “If money, time, and other practical concerns were put aside, what would help right now?”
  • “Does anyone in your life know that you’re struggling with this?” → “What suggestions have they had?”
  • “How have you been handling everything?”
  • “Asking for help is really hard, and I’d be glad to help you figure something out.”
  • “I’m wondering if seeing a counselor might be helpful for you. Have you ever considered going to CAPS?”
  • “I’m sorry you’re going through this. Thank you for telling me.”
  • “There are several resources available to support you. I’d be happy to tell you about them if you’re interested.”
Remember: If you aren’t sure how to help, the best thing you can do is ask your friend directly what they need or how you can be helpful. Often, just knowing that someone cares can make a huge difference.

Giving and receiving help is about more than just help

Zach Gray | TEDxLehighRiver