Concerned about a friend
Friends are one of our most important support systems, but there are many people in College here to help support both of you.
If you are concerned about a friend, try to talk with them about the issue. Encourage your friend to share what they are thinking or feeling – often people do want to talk, but may feel nervous about bringing it up, so can be grateful to be asked how they are really doing.
Be supportive and available to listen when your friend feels able to talk (which may not be straight away, so be patient). However, be careful not to take on more than you can comfortably cope with. We all have limits (of time, knowledge, ability to help, understanding, etc) so think about the various pressures on you and offer the level of support you feel able to sustain.
Support for you and your friend
Sometimes it may be appropriate to encourage your friend to seek professional help. There are lots of people they could speak to, and you could help them work out who they would feel comfortable talking to - the Here for you directory is a good starting place.
It is important to remember that you are not responsible for your friend’s problem, and if they won’t seek help you are not responsible for their actions or the consequences. Your role is simply to encourage them to seek help and provide a listening ear.
If you don’t feel comfortable or able to talk to your friend about your concerns directly, do speak with someone else, for example your personal tutor, your department's senior tutor, or your hall warden. You could also talk with one of Imperial’s student counsellors, to check whether the support you are giving your friend is helpful.
In more extreme circumstances, such as if you have concerns over your friend’s safety, you should alert others, even if this is against your friend’s wishes. Don’t feel like you are going behind your friend’s back – it is important to look out for each other and whilst it might feel uncomfortable you are acting in their best interests as the College needs to know about issues in order to be able to offer appropriate support.
Our duty of care
The College has a duty of care to its students and staff. As members of the College we all share in this.
This duty of care includes providing support to vulnerable individuals who may be at risk of becoming radicalised by extremist movements or ideologies which may call for the use of violence. If you are worried that someone you know might be at risk, please visit the College's Prevent webpages for more information.
Further information and advice
- Mentality – connect with other students passionate about improving and better supporting mental health in College.
- The Student Minds 'Look After Your Mate' Guide for Friends contains lots of information and resources.
- Students Against Depression provides advice and strategies for those wanting to support someone else who may be affected by depression.
- Mind's website includes a range of information aimed at helping friends, family, carers and others who are supporting someone with a mental health problem.
- The pages on Sexual assault and Supporting a friend or partner after sexual assault provide guidance on how you can help support your friend or partner, and contain information on specialised support organisations.