Peers frequently go to each other for support and advice around a variety of issues. An individual who is distressed often wants help but doesn’t know how to ask. You can play an essential role by expressing your concerns in a caring, empathic, nonjudgmental way.
How to Start the Conversation
- Find a private, comfortable place to talk. Put away distractions like you phone or computer.
- Ask open-ended questions; don’t feel compelled to find a solution. Often, listening is enough.
- If appropriate, suggest that your friend get more help. You can point out the resources available at BU. (See below for “How to Make a Referral.”)
- Know your own limits. If you are worried about a student’s safety, because of a concerning text you received or a statement that they made, reach out for help. You can call Behavioral Medicine at 617-353-3569 to consult with a clinician, or if more imminent danger is evident, call the BUPD at 617-353-2121 on the Charles River Campus, 617-638-4144 at BU Medical Campus, or 911 off campus.
How to Make a Referral
- Encourage your friend to make an appointment.
- Behavioral Medicine: 617-353-3569
- SARP: 617-353-SARP (7277)
- If necessary, you can help your friend make an appointment. Call while your friend is with you. Write down the appointment details, including time, provider’s name, and location.
- All calls and visits are strictly confidential. The only exception is in situations of life-and-death emergency, when the most important consideration is ensuring the person’s safety.
Interested in more training about how to best support your peers?
The Terriers Connect is a training program that teaches members of the Boston University community to identify signs of distress, develop effective skills for communicating with and supporting students, and provide accurate information about referrals to mental health professionals. Click on the logo for more details and find out how you can get trained.