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Beginning a Conversation

By communicating interest and concern to a distressed student, you may play an
important role in helping that student regain the balance to cope with distress and function well. If you are not sure how to approach a student you are concerned about, consult with a friend, or call Student Counseling (320-589-6060) and ask to speak with a counselor. Counselors are available to serve as consultants to students, faculty, and staff handling difficult student situations.

If you choose to approach a friend you’re concerned about or if a friend reaches out to you for help with personal concerns, here are some suggestions that might make the opportunity more comfortable for you and more helpful for your friend.

Talk to your friend, either alone or with someone else, in private. Speak directly, sincerely, and honestly.

Express your concern in specific, nonjudgmental terms and within a context of caring and concern. Tell her/him clearly what behaviors you have observed that are causing you concern.

Listen to thoughts and feelings in a sensitive, non-threatening way. Communicate understanding by repeating back the essence of what the student has told you.

Let your friend know that you believe a counselor would be of help. If she/he takes a defensive posture, simply restate your concerns and recommendations.

If your friend is willing to schedule an appointment, offer to assist this process by offering her/him immediate use of your phone or by walking her/him to Student Counseling if you are willing to do so.

Dangerous crisis situations include suicidal behaviors or threats, homicidal behavior or threats, irrational dangerous behavior, or excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs. If you are not sure whether the situation represents immediate danger, err on the side of caution and call 911. See more information about Crisis Situations

If the mental health crisis is not dangerous, but you wish to talk to someone immediately after hours or on weekends for assistance about what to do next, call the following 24-hour help line:

Crisis Connection


Crisis Connection is a 24 hour helpline for the state of Minnesota.