How to Help a Friend

  1. Show you care:  

This will be different for each of you.  Maybe it's saying 'hi' as you pass one another in the hall, or surprising them with a favorite snack or playlist.  Check in with those you care about, share memes or videos, or have an impromptu dance party – all of these little things can demonstrate that you care about your friends.  And, when a friend, roommate or partner comes to you to share something vulnerable, make welcoming space for them to share by listening, reflecting their emotions, and not judging what they are saying.  

  1. Ask open ended questions: 

 It can be hard to get started in these conversations, or to take a conversation deeper.  Asking questions like "how are your classes going" or "what was the peak and the pit of your week?" can begin real conversations and provide an opportunity for them to share with you their thoughts, feelings, and successes, as well as the harder topics or struggles.  It's okay too, to ask directly – how are you doing?  Or I'm worried about you, are you doing okay?

  1. Notice changes in patterns or behaviors: 

If your friend is typically open and talkative, notice if they become more closed off or uninterested in talking.  If your friend typically enjoys learning or engaging in labs, notice if they're not going to class regularly.  These at times subtle changes in behavior may be cues to what's going on in your friend's emotional life.  Check in with them about the changes, use your observations as  starting point.  Share directly and honestly about your concern and your care for them. Try not to project emotions on to them, but ask what they are feeling or if things have changed for them.  Ask how you can support them. 

  1. Keep in touch: 

After sharing personal information, your friend may feel relieved or embarrassed, or unsure of how to act around you.  Thank them for sharing, and offer to help get them connected to other resources on campus or at home.  You can also decide together how they can let you know when they need space, support, or conversation in the future – open the door for more meaningful conversations, and find opportunities to share about yourself with them as well.  Mutual friendships are often the most satisfying for both people. 

  1. Consult when you're feeling stuck: 

Reach out to us if you're noticing concerning behaviors or patterns.  At CAPS, we're here to support you – whether it's about you or about another student, so feel free to talk with us about what's going on - you can call 707-654-1170.  We can't provide any information about a particular student's treatment or use of services here due to confidentiality rules, but we can receive information from you, consult with you about your next steps, and get you connected to the support you need as a friend, roommate, or partner. 

Learn More: 

Cal Maritime's Red Folder for supporting students in distress


Local Resources: 



University Police Department

707-654-1176 (non-emergency)

CAPS and Student Health Services after hours support 

707-654-1170 ext 1

Office of the Commandant


Confidential Campus Sexual Assault Advocate



University Advising