Watching close friends or family members struggle with issues like depression, loss, alcohol, or other problems can be really tough. Knowing what to do or how to be helpful is not easy. How you respond to those in distress will depend on a number of things such as:
If you don’t view the situation as an emergency, you might decide not to intervene at all, so long as their problem seems minor or temporary.
But more likely, you might choose to focus on a minor problem indirectly by asking how they’re doing or letting them know you're concerned and that would like to help. As you take this step, be prepared to invest the time and effort it takes to be a good listener, to communicate patience and understanding and to sustain your effort over time to ensure that they make it through their difficult time. Frequently, it is your willingness to listen and to show your concern that it most helpful, rather than providing a solution or answer.
Also, consider that learning more about the problem they face may help you feel more comfortable or confident as a "helper." Consider doing an Internet search about the problem, reviewing the University of Chicago Counseling Center pamphlet collection or coming to Student Counseling Services (SCS) to consult with a staff member.
While situations that seem to demand a response are rare, such emergency situations can occur. If such an occasion should arise, there are several helpful things to consider: