Below are a few ways you can begin talking to a friend who you may be concerned about:


  • Given that this may be a difficult conversation, try your best to talk in a private place and to have some time on your hands so that you don’t feel rushed.
  • Begin by describing the specific behaviors that have raised your concern. You may have noticed something that seemed different to you, or is a change from how your friend usually behaves.
  • A few examples of asking specific questions include:
  • “You haven’t been to class in a week” (this tells your friend they were missed AND is specifically expressing your concern to them) or
  • “I can’t help but notice you’ve been upset or down a lot lately” or
  • “You never want to hang out anymore.”
  • “I am concerned about your drinking/drug use and want to help you.”
  • Listen to them without judgment or telling them what they should do. Be supportive and encouraging, and don’t feel insulted if they refuse to talk.
  • Try to remain calm and show concern, but don’t feel like you need to know everything. Remember, this may be a difficult topic or time for someone who may be struggling, and they may feel embarrassed or ashamed. If a friend does not want to talk, don’t feel you didn’t help; you may have planted an important seed that lets them know someone cares and that help is available when they are ready.
  • If they do not want to talk or are not interested in getting help right now, make clear to your friend that:
  • You are available if they change their mind or want to talk at a later time.
  • You can take them to CAPS/their RA/a professor if they prefer to talk to a professional in private.


  • If your friend is open to the idea of getting help, tell them about CAPS as a confidential resource for students struggling with a variety of emotional or behavioral issues.
  • If you are worried that your friend may be having difficulties with mental health related issues, you might suggest that your friend take an online self-assessment or that you look together at the CAPS website to decide what might be helpful to them as a next step.
  • You can also call CAPS to consult with a mental health professional 24 hours a day (310-825-0768), either with your friend or without, to receive guidance and support.
  • Some concerns may not be mental health related, in which case other campus resources may be able to provide assistance.