Urgent Support

Signs that your friend needs help

Riya had noticed that Ravi didn't seem like himself these days. He had been missing out on classes and also avoiding friends. Whenever they did meet, he seemed very distant and it was difficult to have a smooth conversation with him. They had just received their midsemester results and Aniket had not performed as good as he had expected. She was concerned for her friend but wasn’t sure what to do. She was also confused if his change in behaviour was something to worry about or just a passing phase.

Initiation

As students living together, you have the maximum interaction with your friends and peers across different situations. This means that you’re the ones who know them best and are most likely to notice if someone is going through some difficulties or if there have been any changes in their behaviour. Though you may notice the changes easily sometimes, you may be unsure about whether they are simply upset and will cope with it or if they need help to feel better. While the best way is to simply ask if they are feeling okay, usually it is not that easy to start these conversations. The following checklist will help you ascertain the severity of the distress and the urgency in finding support.

In case you have noticed the following signs of distress in a friend/classmate, please help in finding support. Even though it may make you feel anxious, your timely help can ensure that the person gets the help they need.

This is not an exhaustive list. If you strongly feel that something is bothering your friend (but cannot find it in the checklist) and they might need some help, then go with your gut and seek help. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Checklist

If you observe 4 or more of these behaviours for one month or more

Either started or increased the consumption substances or alcohol to 'feel better'

Using more of internet

Has talked about feeling lost, like there is no sense of direction

Have experienced some significant loss lately (any personal loss, difficulty in academics, major life transitions/changes) and are not able to get out of it.

Rarely stepped out of room, not even for usual group outings.

Losing interest and not enjoying activities that they previously enjoyed

Avoiding meeting people, isolating themselves from friends and family

Visible change in personal hygiene (stopping/reduced self-care & grooming)

Episodes of panic attacks or anxiety attacks

Crying a lot / constantly worrying about something or other / finding it difficult to relax

Avoiding certain situations that make them anxious (like social events)

Struggling to get to classes.

Finding it difficult to complete daily tasks

Easily lashing out at others/frequent anger outburst/ extreme mood swings

Constantly keeps procrastinating important work

Most of the following physical symptoms or few symptoms reoccurring frequently for the last two weeks or more

Change in sleeping habits (lot more or less than before)

Change in eating habits (less or more compared to before)

Having considerably lower energy than before and feeling tired all the time

Having butterflies in stomach

Being nauseous / having sweaty palms

Experiencing dizziness/ increased heart rate/ breathlessness

Frequent headaches / digestion issues

Frequent visits to the hospital without any obvious health concerns

Frequently using statements like

Everyone is against me / Everybody hates me / No one would notice if I was gone / No one cares for me

I am worthless and inadequate / I am undeserving / I'll never be able to get through this work / 'I'm a failure / I'm not good enough / I'm a burden

Things will never get better for me / I'll never be good at anything / I can't see any way out of this

I was better before / I was able to manage things better before / Life was easier before.

Thoughts about hurting oneself

Thoughts expressing hopelessness and worthlessness

Seek immediate help if you have noticed any of the following in the last one week

Isolating themselves from friends and family

Feeling hopeless, trapped, feeling like being a 'burden'

Doing risky things

Thinking about suicide to deal with the situation

Explicitly stating their desire to harm themselves / 'wanting to end it all'

Looking for ways to harm oneself / talking about harming oneself

Possessing ways to harm oneself (e.g. stocking up on pills, buying self-harming things)

Talking/writing/drawing about death

Don't keep the stress to yourself!

  • If your friend has a mentor, a good idea would be to share with the mentor your concerns and seek support from them.
  • If your friend has physical symptoms (e.g. not eating properly, not able to sleep, weakness, lethargy) offer to accompany them to IIT Hospital to meet a physician.
  • Along with the above, feel free to reach out to a counsellor at the Student Wellness Centre. You can take an appointment for yourself or on behalf of your friend.