Show You Care: How to Reach a Friend Going Through a Difficult Time

Depression is something that we will all likely face in our lifetimes. Although it may be in varying degrees, there is still help out there for anyone who needs advice or even just a listening ear. The statistics regarding college students and suicide are staggering. It is estimated that the second leading cause of death among college students is suicide and 33% of college students have at one time or another contemplated taking their own lives. Valley spoke to Mary Anne Knapp, a clinical social worker as well as the community outreach coordinator at CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) to shed some light on their Show You Care Campaign as well as some tips on how to relieve stress and make it easier for students to talk about difficult issues with their friends.

The Show You Care Campaign was started as a way to increase dialogue amongst Penn State Students concerning things that are otherwise difficult to talk about. Just a glance on the campaign’s website has tips on: How to help a friend who’s suicidal, a friend who’s out of control, a friend struggling with an eating disorder, and even how to relieve stress.   The website also has basic steps and tips to deal with any hairy situation:

Step 1: Communicate Care and Concern              

This can be as simple as saying “I’m really worried about you.”

Step 2: Ask, Assess and Affirm

Let your friend know that you have noticed their behavior, are concerned and let them know that you are here to help.

 Step 3: Know Your Resources

There are so many local organizations and centers dedicated to helping someone in need. These places include CAPS, Mt. Nittany Medical Center, the CAN HELP line, as well as University Police.

Step 4: Engage and Eliminate Danger

Don’t choose to wait to take action. If you believe something is serious then it most likely is and you should act now.  Taking that extra day or even a couple hours before helping a friend can have terrible and serious consequences.

Knapp emphasizes the importance of self-care and stress management, “Paying attention to basic needs, realizing limits…We all need sleep, regular nutrients, exercise and a balance in life to deal with stress.” As college students it can be easy to lose sight of ourselves amidst all of our everyday stresses and struggles.  Knapp’s parting quote, “Resilience is an attitude to cultivate,” rang true. No one is born knowing how to copeit’s something that we all have to work on. Thankfully there are others around to Show They Care when the road gets a little tough.