How to Support a Student: Friends

Friends of a student are in a position to notice behaviors that are unusual or concerning due to the increased contact compared to other relationships. For example, some students who are experiencing distress might withdraw from social encounters and friends are typically the first to notice. As a friend, you may feel that you have the rapport and relationship to discuss your concerns with a peer. When leading said discussions, consider the following information:

  • Hold conversations in a private space
  • Listen attentively and give your friend room to speak
  • Be supportive and positive
  • Point out specific signs that you have observed that support your concerns
  • Be upfront about concerns regarding suicidality and self-harm, it is important that we don’t beat around the bush with this topic; use words such as “suicide” and “self-harm” when having this discussion
  • Ask your friend what support or help they desire and what they think they need in order to feel better
  • Provide whatever resources or referrals possible
  • Follow-up later and check-in to see how the person you care about is doing

Friends are also in a position where they may have relationships with FYCs, CRDs, Commons Deans, Commons Coordinators, and other residential life personnel. If warranted, these relationships may provide useful to begin holding conversations with others regarding your concerns and observations. Ultimately, we want to do is create a network of support around the student who is experiencing hardship.

Middlebury College Counseling offers consultation to students whom may be concerned about a peer on campus. We encourage you to talk with a counselor in our confidential and safe environment. The Counseling program is here to help support you to the best of its ability, including providing counseling sessions to students that are experiencing concerns regarding a friend on campus.

Health Services
Centeno House
1st & 2nd Floor
Phone: 802-443-5135
Fax: 802-443-2066

Centeno House
3rd Floor
Phone: 802-443-5141
Fax: 802.443.3407

Sports Medicine
Field House
Phone: 802-443-3636
Fax: 802-443-2094