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ASK OTHERS: HOW ARE YOU?

By asking someone how they are, you can show that you care and are interested and appreciative. Although people often answer the question “How are you?” with “just fine” or “hanging in there”, asking the question allows the other person to say more.

It may also be that the time for the real news will come later. When you show interest and caring by asking how someone is doing, you are communicating that you are someone to whom they can safely tell things.

I WONDER IF MY FRIEND IS OKAY

You notice a change in another student’s behaviour. They may be tired, quieter, or absent from lectures. You notice that they have worries, but it seems difficult to ask them how they’re doing.

If you’re worried about your friend’s wellbeing, here are some tips on how to raise the issue with them. Remember, asking won’t hurt anyone. Opening up the conversation can help your friend feel better.

AN APPROPRIATE PLACE AND TIME

The first thing to consider is where and when it would be good to talk to your friend so that you can talk alone without distractions. Ask your friend out for coffee, for example. It’s a good idea to allow plenty of time to talk: if your friend wants to talk, it’s important that you have time to listen. Show that you are there for them and ready to help.

Ask open questions that can’t be answered with a yes/no answer. Here are some starter questions:

  • You’ve seemed more tired lately – how are you doing?
  • You haven’t seemed like yourself lately – how are you?
  • I haven’t seen you for a while – how are you?
  • LISTENING IS IMPORTANT

Let your friend tell you what’s on their mind. Don’t make assumptions about what’s wrong; give them space to tell you and focus on listening. Also, don’t belittle what your friend says by saying things like, “Those are small worries. There are so many things that are going well for you.” A worry that seems small to you can be big and difficult for someone else. If you can’t find the right words, remember that listening and being present is enough.

TAKE ‘NO’ FOR AN ANSWER

If, for some reason, your friend doesn’t want to tell you what’s going on, accept it. However, you should let them know that you are willing to listen if they want to talk some other time.

KEEP IN TOUCH

If your friend has told you about their situation, keep in touch. This will show your friend that you have not forgotten them after your conversation. Keeping in touch doesn’t always have to be a discussion about your friend’s difficult situation. You can do pleasant things together. You can also chat about ordinary, everyday things.

THINK OF SOLUTIONS TOGETHER

If your friend is open with you about their situation, you can work together to find ways to make things easier. You might ask how you can help. However, you don’t have to be able to give good advice that will solve the situation. The most important thing is that you show support for your friend.

If your friend’s situation looks like they might need outside help, encourage them to get it.

REMEMBER TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

Your role is to help your friend within the scope of your abilities. You are not required to make your friend’s choices for them. You can be present and offer your help, but you don’t have to solve everything. Remember to take care of yourself and your own wellbeing!