Peers and supporters – how to help

If you are concerned about a peer or student you know, or have recognized some signs of distress, it’s important to understand there are many ways to help.

Listening attentively is one the most important things you can do

If you don’t feel comfortable discussing this issue, you can:

If you feel comfortable, here are some suggestions to help you become an effective supporter

  • Set up a time to talk that won’t be interrupted.
  • Set a positive tone.
  • Starting a conversation may be difficult. More Feet on the Ground has suggestion you may find helpful.
  • Listen attentively.
  • Express your concern and tell them you care.
  • Point out specific behaviours you’ve observed and ask questions that show you care.

“I’ve notice lately you’ve been staying in your room a lot and not watching t.v. with the rest of us like we usually do…”

“I’m concerned because when we’re together you seem very distant.”

  • Allow the student time to tell her/his story.
  • Be patient and remember silence is okay.
  • Focus on what the student is saying.
  • Let her/him know you’re glad she/he is sharing her/his issue with you.
  • Ask open-ended questions and encourage her/him to come up with solutions, for example:

“What do you think might help in this situation?”

 “Will you tell me about the options you do have?”

  • Let the student know you want to help, but remember you’re not a counsellor
    • Remind her/him many students talk to a counsellor, doctor and/or nurse, whether they have a few concerns or many. Students say talking with a professional helps if they feel overwhelmed, depressed or are worried about any issue with their mental health.

Have your resources available

Personal Counselling x4750
To make an appointment with a counsellor.

Student Health Services x3243
To book an appointment with the mental health nurse or a physician.

  • It’s okay to take a “time-out” from the conversation if it gets too emotional. Acknowledge what’s happening and suggest taking a “time out.”
  • Make a plan to return to the conversation at another set time.
  • Before closing the conversation, make sure to direct her/him to the resources listed on this site.
  • Set a followup time and let her/him know when she/he can contact you should they need anything.

If you are worried this is a crisis situation, call 911. The Campus Security team is here 24 hours a day and can be reached at 905 688 5550 x3200.