Are you worried about another student or a friend?

What has made you feel worried?

  • They have told you that have been having problems
  • You have noticed visible change in your friend’s appearance e.g. dramatic weight loss/gain or a decline in personal hygiene
  • Your friend’s alcohol or drug consumption has increased dramatically or appears to be dependent
  • Your friend’s behaviour has been a topic of concern among other friends/family members
  • Your friend is spending much more of their time alone/is not attending college
  • Your friend has gone missing

If any of the above statements are true, consider taking the following action…

  • Try not to avoid or ignore the situation. Try to approach your friend calmly and with concern. Conversation is more effective than confrontation.
  • If possible, approach the situation early, before problems worsen and become more difficult to handle. Be proactive, rather than reactive.
  • All that your friend might really need or want is someone to talk to. Someone to make them listened to, understood or cared about. 
  • It is Important to be willing to listen and to try and understand the way your friend is feeling. Giving them the opportunity to vent their feelings and problems may be the most important thing.
  • Do not allow yourself to feel a burden of responsibility for your friend’s problems, or feel that you alone have to solve it. This will only serve to make you feel worse and leave you unable to help your friend.

What if my friend refuses my help?

  • Do not force yourself upon the situation. If they become withdrawn when you try to address the situation, take a step back in order to allow yourself to re-assess the situation.
  • Consider talking to other friends or family members of the friend in question. Try to work out together how best to approach the problem.
  • Get in contact with the University’s Counselling Service, Chaplaincy or Student Health Unit and discuss the matter with them.
  • My Friend has a problem and wishes to receive help
  • What sort of help does your friend require? Work it out together.

More information here: Things not Going Right?

Some Contact Info:

Remember, it can be stressful helping a friend, remember to look after yourself and seek support and help from others.


  • “My friend is acting withdrawn and unmotivated, and showing signs of depression. How do I help them?”
  • “My girlfriend has confessed to having thoughts of self-harm and suicide”
  • “My friend had stopped eating and is beginning to look unhealthy”
  • “My boyfriend is coping badly with the death of a friend and is struggling to overcome it. I don’t know what to do”
  • “My best friend has become dependent on alcohol and drugs, and it’s affecting both his health and mind, and our friendship”
  • “My housemate rarely leaves her room and she has not been attending college. I feel she may be suffering from depression”

If you are concerned about your friend’s mental health or if any of these quotes seem familiar then you should know that there is help available. Taking the baggage of a friend’s problems on your own shoulders may only serve to drag you down and leave you unable to care for yourself, let alone them. You must first and foremost look after yourself.  You should know that you can still be a caring, concerned friend while the responsibility of helping is being distributed more evenly through use of any of the several services available through the university. In NUIG the student’s well being is of the upmost importance and we encourage anyone who feels that they or a friend would benefit from any of these services to not hesitate to get in touch. There is always someone to listen.

Worried about a friend – FAQs

What if my friend feels attacked when confronted about their behaviour?

Think of how you will approach the conversation carefully, before entering into it. It is important not to sound angered or frustrated with them. Enter the conversation in a calm, collected way and refrain from raising your voice. If they feel attacked regardless, then back away from the situation briefly and discuss the matter with other friends or one of those available through the college’s services, to see how you should proceed.

If my friend’s issues have affected their studies is there a risk of them getting “thrown out”?

Each situation is unique to the person, but it is unlikely that any such event would occur. Deferral of exams and deadlines are possible and the possibility to repeat a year is also available. The college understands that it is not easy to juggle studies with serious personal issues and will generally facilitate the completion of a degree through tough times.  Issues can be discussed with the counsellors and with staff of the student’s faculty.

The weight of responsibility worrying about my friend has been affecting my own life and my studies. How do I know what to prioritise?

You must prioritise yourself first. If you become overwhelmed with stress about studies while worrying about your friend, you will become mentally exhausted and unable to help yourself or your friend. What your friend could need is a person around who seems strong and willing to listen when they need it, but, if you are stressed and irritable, then that will be impossible. Look after your own mental and physical wellbeing first and foremost, so that you are a more capable companion to your friend.

Will the university tell my friend’s parents if I tell someone about what they’re through? Am I being disloyal?

The University will not contact parents unless it is deemed completely necessary, nor will they be contact without first informing the person in question. No, it is not disloyal. Professional support is ultimately the best thing for a person who is ill. Early intervention can prevent a situation from becoming worse.

Is the chaplaincy going to try and convert my friend to religion or judge them from that perspective?

No. That is not the job of chaplaincy. To provide unbiased, sincere guidance and counselling for any student going through a tough time is a priority.