Connecting with others and forming quality relationships is critical to our mental well-being. Building these connections can support your own feelings of belonging and happiness. Through these connections, we can better tune into when someone else needs support.
With Connecting Matters, you can:
- Improve your listening skills to show your friends, family members or coworkers that you really care
- Know the resources available to you to refer students in distress to, and how to intervene in a crisis
- Participate in a Princeton Distress Awareness & Response (PDAR) workshop to learn how to better support those in need
When you recognize signs of distress in someone else, you can make a difference and take action. All you need to do is be REALL.
Pay attention to the following indicators and reach out when you see them.
- frequently skipping classes
- missed assignments
- deterioration in work quality
- disorganized or erratic performance
- work with disturbing content
- acting differently/out of control
- withdrawing from friends and activities
- inappropriate or exaggerated behavior (e.g., overreacting to stress, highly agitated/irritable)
- fatigue, coming to class bleary eyed
- lack of personal hygiene
- increased use of alcohol or drugs, frequently hung-over
- significant changes in weight
- noticeable cuts, bruises, or burns on student
- experience of a trauma or a loss
- online postings that seem threatening or concerning
- talking about death (or "wanting out")
- taking life-threatening risks
As a bystander, one of the biggest barriers to reaching out is the worry that it’s none of our business or that students will be embarrassed. But students actually feel cared for and recognized when asked how they’re doing.
- DO: Speak with the student privately
- DON’T: Promise your confidentiality (CPS is confidential)
- DO: Focus concerns on behaviors that you have observed that concern you
- DON’T: Leave the student alone if you have concerns about their safety
- DO: Express willingness to help
Ways to start a conversation from a place of caring:
- "I'm worried about you, you seem stressed."
- "You seem down lately and you don't come out of your room much."
- "I've noticed you seem to be partying a lot more lately."
Ask open ended questions, and reflect what you hear:
- "What's bothering you?"
- "How have you been feeling lately?"
Asking about suicide is difficult but potentially life-saving and will not give someone the idea or make things worse. In fact, it may be a relief for the student to know you’re open to hearing about whatever they’re feeling.
- "Have you had thoughts about hurting yourself or ending your life?"
- "Have you been thinking that things would be easier if you weren't around?"
- Ask how the student has tried to cope, and what else the student thinks might help
- Take what they say seriously
- Give the student time to talk; know that you don’t have to fill silence
- Offer emotional support, understanding and patience
- Let them know they don't have to suffer alone
- Expect resistance and acknowledge their concern
- Acknowledge that depression and anxiety are real, common and treatable
- Don’t rush into problem solving
- Often after having a chance to vent, students will be more open to help
- Hear their pain and avoid judgment
- Inform them that the Counseling & Psychological Services are FREE and confidential
- Offer to accompany them to see a counselor or call the crisis hotline with them