Small things you can do to help a friend in need

Freddie Parker on 10 September 2023
Student providing emotional support to a friend

10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day, a time for us to think about the support we can offer others. Even little things can make a difference.

Creating hope through action

That’s the theme for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day. By taking action, we can make sure that those struggling with suicidal thoughts feel supported. It also highlights the fact that it doesn’t matter how big or small the actions are. With that in mind, we thought we’d put together a list of small things you can do as a student to support those in need.

Reach out

A lot of the time, people keep things to themselves for fear of becoming a burden to others. This only ends up making things worse. It’s important to reach out to your loved ones. Ask them how they are and make it clear that you’ll hold no judgement. These conversations are never easy, but they are essential.

Break the stigma

Mental health discussions have come a long way over the past couple of decades, but there is still prejudice against mental illnesses. Make sure you don’t shame people for asserting their boundaries. Someone is too anxious to go out and bails last minute? Respect their decision, there will be other opportunities to hang out.

Pay it forward

Granted, students aren’t known for their riches, but paying for someone’s coffee or McDonald’s order could make their day. Who knows? You could start a ‘pay it forward’ chain that helps brighten the day of all involved.

Build a safe space

We’re not talking about renting a space and designating it as ‘safe’. This could be inviting a friend struggling with their living arrangement to stay the night. Or, making dinner for a friend in relationship troubles. You then make these into safe spaces by not judging or shaming them for their struggles.

Support a charity

Again, we know you may not be flush enough to make consistent large donations, but there are other ways to help. Small donations eventually add up if people do it enough. You could also do something sponsored or turn a party/gathering into a fundraiser.

Push for change

Going to protests can be overwhelming for some, and with new restrictions on what counts as an illegal demonstration, it’s even more difficult. Vote in student union elections for those who take a strong stance on mental health support. You could also try contacting politicians or higher-ups in the university to get them to stand up for changes to the system.

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Freddie Parker
Freddie Parker on 10 September 2023