Worried about someone?

Staff member concerned about a student?

Many people experience emotional or psychological difficulties at some point in their life.

Academic life can be both exciting and challenging and this will impact on students in various ways. It is not uncommon for students to feel stressed and overwhelmed at times. While most students cope with the stresses of life at university by talking issues through with academic staff, family and friends, some may benefit from professional help.

As a member of university staff you may find yourself in the position where you feel the need, or are requested, to give student assistance. It is important that you do so within the boundaries of what you feel comfortable doing.

The Counselling Service has collaborated with university colleagues to produce a brief guide to help you to identify and support students in distress.

We have also developed the following quick reference flowcharts

We value feedback and would be happy to meet for informal discussions or to present at group/departmental meetings. Requests for paper copies of the guide and flowcharts should be emailed to studentwellbeing@gcu.ac.uk along with any other comments or suggestions.

Worried about a friend or flatmate?

Worried about a friend, classmate or someone in your shared flat? Information below will help with;

  • Advice on what you can do
  • Practical information to pass on to your friend
  • Support to help you deal with your own emotions

What's causing you to worry?

You may be worried about your friend’s physical, emotional or mental health.

Maybe you are worried because your friend has told you directly that they are experiencing difficulties?

Maybe your concern is a result of something you have noticed?

You might have become aware of;

  • Changes in your friend’s appearance (i.e. significant weight loss/gain, decline in personal hygiene)
  • Changes to your friend’s mood and/or behaviour (i.e. they’ve become sad and withdrawn, or angry and aggressive)
  • You may have noticed that your friend’s alcohol or drug taking is or has become excessive
  • Other people might have mentioned their worries about this person to you

These are just a few of the reasons that you may be worried about a friend or flatmate.

Keep reading to get some practice advice on what you can do to help.

What can you do if you are worried?

Thinking about how to approach a friend, flatmate or classmate who is experiencing difficulties can be daunting, but by following the steps below you can share your concern in a caring and gentle way.

Step 1: Be straightforward and honest - tell your friend that you are worried about them, and that you would like to help them if you can.

Step 2: Be prepared to listen – make time to listen to how your friend’s experiences have made them feel, and try to show them understanding and compassion.

Step 3: Express concern - but remember you're not their therapist! There are limits on what you can offer as a friend. Make clear to them what you can do (listen and recommend sources of support) and what you can’t do (solve all their problems).

Step 4: Encourage your friend to get help – remind them that they’re probably not alone in feeling the way that they do. Lots of students struggle while they’re at University. That’s why GCU has a dedicated counselling service staffed by professional counsellors who are trained to work with a wide range of issues.

Step 5: Support yourself – remember to look after your own wellbeing during this time. Recognise if it becomes difficult for you and make time to relax, do things for fun and spend time with others. You may find that talking it through with someone else (while keeping your friend’s confidentiality where appropriate) can help ease the strain.

Sources of support

  • The Counselling Team is located in M136 in the George Moore Building.

For your friend – The Counselling Team offers one to one counselling which is free of charge to all GCU students. Make your friend aware of the website, which has lots of information about how they can support students who are experiencing difficulties. Students accessing the counselling service for the first time can fill in an online form.  They will then be invited along to a short meeting where they will be able to discuss whether or not counselling is right for them at this time.

For you – The Counselling Team can give you information about the kind of problems your friend may be experiencing. They can also provide information about organisations outside the university that you may wish to pass on to your friend or follow up for yourself. You may decide to meet with a counsellor from the Counselling Team yourself in order to work through any emotions which supporting your friend, classmate or flatmate has brought up in you.

The Students’ Association Advice Centre provides a free, non-judgemental and confidential service to all GCU students.  The Student Advisers to provide advice on academic issues and procedures, bullying and harassment, financial worries, accommodation issues and much more.  You can reassure your friend that the Student Advisers are professional, approachable and very experienced.  Their contact details are outlined below and remember you can accompany your friend to their meeting if they are nervous about going along on their own.

Drop-in - The Advice Centre is open for you to drop in between 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday during term time and for most of the student holidays. The advice centre offices are located in the Students’ Association Building (NH117 and NH118). 

Phone - Call the advice centre on 0141 273 1650 (please leave a message if this is outside of 9am-5pm Monday to Friday or if the line is busy)

Email your query to studentadvice@gcu.ac.uk and one of the student advisers will respond as soon as possible.

More details are available on the Advice Centre websitewww.caledonianstudent.com/advice

Nightline is a confidential phone and online chat service run by trained student volunteers who provide listening and information support to students at GCU and Strathclyde Universities. You may decide to pass on this number/website to your friend or contact Nightline yourself to talk things through.  Nightline is open all night from 7pm-7am during term and exam times. 

Call – 0141 55 22 555

  • Accommodation Office – Caledonian Court

If you are worried about a student who is living in Caledonian Court you may decide to speak to a member of staff in the Accommodation Office or a Residence Assistant.

Staff in the accommodation office are on hand to offer a wide variety of support. They also have good links with other sources of support across the university. If your friend is having trouble settling in, or has issues with their flatmates then accommodation staff may be able to offer practical advice. You can also speak with accommodation staff about other concerns you have about your friend or flatmate and they will be able to offer advice or signpost appropriate support.

You can also encourage your friend or flatmate to talk to a Residence Assistant. Residence Assistants are specially designated students (typically 3rd or 4th years or post-graduate students) who live in Caledonian Court. Residence assistants are trained to offer advice about the types of support available at GCU. If your friend or flatmate lives in Caledonian Court they will be able to contact the Residential Assistants by email or by phone (details given to residents upon arrival). The Residential Assistants also attend the social space each evening between 6.00pm and 10pm where they will be able to listen to your concerns and offer advice.

Other sources of specialist advice and support include:

  • V.I.S.A  who provide advice on a range of issues including visas and welfare issues faced by international students
  • Student Funding Team who provide advice on student funding and administer a range of funds for students facing financial hardship
  • Academic staff are also on hand for you to talk to. If you have concerns about a friend or classmate you can speak to your lecturer or class tutor. Your lecturer/tutor will deal with this information in a discrete manner, and will be well placed to let you know where to find the most appropriate support for your friend.

What if I have immediate concerns?

In an immediate situation it is important to think about your safety and the safety of others.

If you feel safe to do so;

  • Be straightforward, explain to your friend that you are going to try and help
  • If your friend continues to behave in a way that threatens their own safety or others it may be that you decide to contact university security or emergency services.
  • If you are on campus or Caledonian Court ask a member of staff to help you to call security and arrange for an ambulance.
  • If you are off campus call NHS 24 and take advice from there

University security 0141 273 3787

NHS 24 08454 242424

Worried about a family member?

If you are concerned about a family member who is studying at GCU it is important that you encourage them to seek support as soon as they feel able to do so. The Student Wellbeing Service is free to access and completely confidential for all GCU students. We offer group sessions, workshops, one-to-one support and also have self-help resources which may be helpful for students: http://www.gcu.ac.uk/counselling/selfhelpresources/   

Students can complete a first appointment form, call us on 0141 273 1393 or drop in to make an appointment (we are located in the George Moore Building, Room M136).

Unfortunately, we are unable to discuss individual students with parents or family members but can provide general advice/guidance. Please email studentwellbeing@gcu.ac.uk if you have any queries.

Please note The Student Wellbeing Service is not an emergency service.  If someone you know is expressing thoughts of suicide, self-harm or risk-taking behaviour, and you have a high concern for their safety, advise them to contact their GP and arrange an appointment immediately.

If you think the person may be at immediate risk of harming themselves or someone else (ie threatening to take their own life or the life of another person), call the emergency services on 999.