Looking out for your mate

What should I do if I have concerns or I am worried about another student?

You may be worried about a friend, a flatmate or another student you know. Perhaps they seem anxious, stressed or upset for long periods of time. Maybe they have started behaving differently, or become withdrawn. If they do not appear to be in immediate danger to themselves or others, but you are still concerned, there are a number of things that you can do.

In an emergency or crisis

If you are concerned that someone may be a danger to themself or to others, then tell someone immediately. 

Contact Student Wellbeing 0131 451 3386 or Safeguarding, if after hours, via the SafeZone App, a red emergency telephone handset, 2222 from an internal phone or +44 (0)131 451 3500. If you are off campus then call the emergency services (999 from any phone).

In a situation where someone is in danger there is no breach of confidentiality or privacy in letting the appropriate people know.

Concerns about another student

In a non-emergency situation, but where you still have concerns about a friend, a flatmate or any fellow student, here are some things you can do to help:

  • Talk to them.  They might value the opportunity to discuss something that might be bothering them.  Letting them know that you are happy for them to talk to you can be a big help.  You can find advice on supporting friends having difficulties by visiting Student Minds.
  • Make them aware of self-help and online resources which might help them, such as Big White Wall, which you can access using your Heriot-Watt log in. Find help resources for a range of issues.
  • Suggest that they might seek help from Student Wellbeing.  
  • Be patient and treat them with respect.  It can sometimes be too easy to become frustrated or angry if someone behaves strangely or in a way we find difficult to understand.  Take care to avoid judging them, calling them names or showing them hostility.  That can make things worse for the other student but also harm joint study or living arrangements for you. 
Support for you

Trying to help a friend through a difficult time can be hard on you, so it is very important that you look after your own wellbeing too.  Don’t feel that you have to take on complete responsibility for a friend who is having mental health or other difficulties, try and encourage them to seek the help they need (as above). Take care of yourself (make sure you eat properly, get enough sleep etc.) and make sure you are still able to study effectively.  If you find dealing with someone you are concerned about is causing you particular difficulties then you can talk to your personal tutor or Student Wellbeing about this.