Sometimes we notice changes in the people we care about. You may become aware that someone close to you is speaking, feeling, or behaving in ways that feel concerning. These changes may be sudden or seem to be lasting longer than usual. It is important to remember that people may express or experience these signs differently. Based on one’s cultural context and personal life experiences, someone may express distress through physical manifestations or consider emotional expressions as a sign of weakness. This may lead to shame or embarrassment opening up to others. Trust your instincts and always check in with others with care and acceptance. Be curious and open to understand someone’s story.
What are some signs that someone else is struggling?
- You notice them exhibiting signs of irritability, sadness, or worrying about the future
- They lack energy or the inability to relax
- They’re demonstrating an increase in physical complaints (headaches, muscle tension, digestive discomfort)
- They may show sudden changes in their regular behavior (mood/anxiety levels)
- You notice new patterns of behavior (issues with sleep/motivation; multiple absences)
- You notice expressions of distress (talking, texting, emailing, posting about distress)
- They demonstrate suicidal/homicidal thoughts, statements, or attempts (view these Warning Signs for Suicide)
- You’ve seen signs of self-harm (cutting, burning)
- You notice they have extreme anxiety or panic (difficulty breathing)
- You notice a loss of contact with reality (seeing/hearing things that are not there)
How can I support someone I care about?
- Make the time and space to connect
- “Want to grab some coffee and talk?”
- Tell the person what you are noticing
- “I’ve noticed you seem more isolated than usual.”
- Validate with care and empathy
- “I’m so glad you opened up to me.”; “I’m here to listen.”
- Use active listening skills like open-ended questions and summarizing what the speaker said
- “How have you been coping?”; ”It sounds like you have been struggling.”
- Explore options for the problem & connect to resources
- “How can I support you?”; “How would you feel contacting the counseling center? I am happy to go with you.”
Where can I refer others for help?
- You can always refer others to Student Counseling for 24/7 support at 215-898-7021.
- You can also view this extensive list of Campus Resources.
- Check out this list of student-led wellness initiatives.
How can I engage in my own self-care while still supporting others?
- Go to Tips & Tools
Where can I learn more?
- The I CARE Training provides information, discussion, and experiential exercises that focus on mental health beliefs and biases, signs of stress/distress/crisis, listening techniques, crisis intervention skills, and Student Counseling services.
- Go to I CARE training & download the I CARE Resource Packet.