University of Minnesota

How To Help A Friend: General Guidelines

Remember: You are not alone! When you are in a situation in which you are talking with a friend about her/his problems, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Do not take on other people’s problems and then feel responsible for the outcome of the problem. If you find that you are spending large amounts of time talking to your friend, worrying about her/him, and/or trying to solve their problems for her/him, it is time for you to bring in other people to help. You are here for an education and growth experiences, and taking on other’s problems distracts you from those goals.

  • Do not promise your friend confidentiality of any information they may pass along to you when they talk to you about a problem. By doing so, you may later be in a difficult situation if the situation is beyond what you can assist and has possibly turned into a situation involving danger for your friend or others. You may delay asking for needed help because you promised not to tell anyone.

  • Get support for yourself if you feel you need it or if you do not know what to do to help your friend any further. There are many resources available at the university and you can find these listed at the mental health web page. Student Counseling Services and the Mental Health Clinic at Boynton Health Service provide consultation to students and other who are unsure about what to do to help a distressed student. If you are in the residence halls, please talk with a residence hall staff member and they can direct you to additional resources as well.

  • Safety always comes first. If you are concerned for the safety of you, your friend, or anyone else, call the University Police immediately.

  • If you feel an issue was a violation of the Student Coder of Conduct, please
    contact the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity.

Students Assisting Students

In 2012, an interactive training tool was developed to provide actual practice in student-student dialogs and making mental health referrals: Students Assisting Students: Interactive Mental Health Training.

Twin Cities Campus: