Worried about someone

Advice if you are worried about a fellow student - See below for advice for staff

When might I be concerned?

  • The person tells you they have a problem that's getting them down
  • There's a sudden change in their appearance, especially weight loss or hygiene
  • You're aware that they regularly make themselves vomit after eating
  • They've threatened or attempted suicide or have threatened or been violent to someone else
  • They've told you or you've noticed that they're self harming - e.g. cutting their arms or other parts of their body
  • They've been excessively or increasingly using alcohol and/or drugs
  • Their mood has changed recently - they seem particularly unhappy or withdrawn, or racing and excited the whole time
  • They're behaving in bizarre ways, for example being overly paranoid.
  • Other people are also concerned about them
  • They have gone missing

How do I talk to someone about their problems?

  • Be willing to listen and offer supportive understanding. This is often as helpful as any direct advice that you can give. Your friend may have been waiting for an opportunity to talk to someone, and sometimes this is enough for people to then start to feel better.
  • There's no need to avoid talking about the situation. It's OK to talk to your friend and tell them you are concerned, but at the same time, you don't want to make them talk about the situation the whole time.
  • Don't forget about your own well being when trying to support someone else. You need to make sure you can look after your own emotions, and you're not expected to give up all your time and energy to help another person.
  • Don't take responsibility for your friend's problems. It's not up to you to solve their difficulties.

What else should I do?

The Counselling Service has drop-in sessions| available each day at 3.00, and the disability and wellbeing office| can often offer urgent appointments. To see the School policy on forced marriage click here|.

For out of hours support, see emergencies/ feeling suicidal|.

 


 

Advice for academic advisers and other staff 

Some students will talk to you about their difficulties, whilst others may avoid asking for help and show their difficulties through a change in personal habits, course attendance or academic performance.

If your support is not helping them to address the problem, or the situation is beyond your ability, you may wish to make a referral for counselling. The Counselling service is available to give informal advice and consultancy to staff who are unsure how to manage a situation.

The School has produced a document for staff: Cause for concern| (PDF). For emergencies or urgent situations, see Emergencies | Feeling suicidal|. To see the School policy on forced marriage click here|. Please also note that there are also LSE Pastoral Support sessions| through the year, as well as a series of Staff Wellbeing Sessions|.

When should I be concerned about a student?

  • You notice a change in their standards of academic work or performance or repeated failures to attend classes
  • They report to you or someone else that they have a problem.
  • Other people express concern like friends, room-mates, colleagues.
  • You notice a change in the way they sound or speak (flat-toned, very quiet, loud, agitated).
  • You notice a change in their mood from what is usual for them (high, low, miserable, sad, tired).
  • You notice a change in their weight or personal hygiene.
  • You often notice smells of alcohol/ non-prescribed drugs
  • They report self-harm or plans to end it all.

In these circumstances it is often better to identify sooner that a student is having difficulties. You need to make a judgment about the student's level of distress. If in doubt, talk to a colleague about your concerns, rather than keeping them to yourself. This can be done on a 'no names' basis.

How should I talk to a student about getting some help?

  • Encourage them to take responsibility for arranging counselling themselves.
  • Avoid using 'should' and 'ought', rather suggest 'How would you feel about talking to a counsellor?'
  • Seeing a counsellor does not mean that they are 'having a breakdown' or 'are crazy'.

How should I suggest counselling?

  • Counselling can be seen as an added support structure.
  • Reassure them about the confidentiality of the counselling service - see confidentiality.
  • Use positive language, eg 'develop some alternative strategies', 'talking to someone independent to help work out a different approach/ new ways of thinking'.
  • Students need to contact the service themselves to make an appointment.
  • Suggest they look at the website.

How should I respond to someone who is upset or causing concern?

  • Stay calm, listen to the person and acknowledge the problem.
  • Recognise the person's feelings and communicate your understanding.
  • Show that you are concerned and can offer support.
  • Avoid getting over-involved or being over-critical.
  • Be direct and clear, especially about confidentiality and the limitations of your role.
  • Take threats of self harm, attempted suicide or plans to end it all very seriously.
  • If you are an Academic Adviser, inform your departmental tutor, or the appropriate Dean or any pastoral support service in the School.

When should I refer to the mental health and wellbeing adviser? 

  • In an emergency situation or if there is a need to refer to a psychiatrist.
  • When someone needs to be pro-active and contact a disturbed student.
  • Where the School can make Reasonable Adjustments or Special Exam Arrangements.

LSE Mental Health and Wellbeing adviser: Jane Sedgwick| - 0207 955 7767

The Counselling Service and disability and well-being office| can offer urgent appointments. For out of hours support, see emergencies | feeling suicidal|.

 


 

 

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