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Concerned about a Friend?

Counseling and Psychological Services offers consultation to students who may have concerns about the well-being of another student at RIT.  While information about current Counseling and Psychological Services clients is confidential, we are available to meet with you regarding your concerns and to help develop a plan of action.

Practicing Good Self Care

If you are concerned about a friend or peer's mental health, know that it is normal to feel confused, frustrated, or scared about dealing with the situation.  Because these feelings can become overwhelming, it may be helpful to seek support from campus resources to address your own feelings and needs.  If you feel that your boundaries are being crossed, or that you are putting your own wellbeing at risk, it may be helpful to consult with a Counseling and Psychological Services staff member.


Plus IconWhat is a mental health crisis?

Although the definition of crisis is different depending on the uniqueness of each individual, an emotional crisis is generally defined as an intense and painful response to a difficulty that exceeds the ability of the person to respond with their own healthy coping skills.  Responding to crisis is critical when the individual has experienced:  

  1. suicidal or homicidal thoughts or impulses;  
  2. sexual or physical assault;  
  3. hearing voices or otherwise misperceiving reality;  
  4. any major disruption in ability to function  
  5. experiencing an overwhelming loss or tragedy  
Plus IconHow do I refer a student of concern to Counseling & Psychological Services (CaPS)?
  • You can encourage the student to come to Counseling & Psychological Services (CaPS) and provide information about our location, phone number, how to make an appointment, and any positive experiences you may have had with CaPS.
  • It might also be helpful to assist the student in making the first contact with CaPS.  You could make the first call together or walk to the Counseling & Psychological Services office together. You could also enlist a student's friend or peer.   
  • If you are unsure of how or when to refer a student, you can always contact CaPS for consultation.  
Plus IconWhat can I expect after referring a student to Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS)?

Check in with the student later about whether they were connected with the appropriate resource.  Ask about their experience.  Offer to advocate for them if needed.   

Request consultation or follow-up from CaPS if you have questions.  

If the student follows through and attends an appointment at CaPS, the therapist meeting with them will encourage them to understand, sign and review consent forms that may allow us to speak with referral sources and other important supports in the student's life.  If the student consents and signs a Release of Information (ROI) form to speak with you, future collaboration about how to best support the student can take place.  

In some emergencies or urgent situations, a counselor may not require written consent by the student, and may consult with you for purpose of assessing and planning for the student's safety. 

Plus Icon+ What to do if a student is having a '”break down” or “panic attack"?
  1. Know that a panic attack is not dangerous.  It cannot cause someone to pass out, have a heart attack or 'go crazy'.  The process of calming down from a panic attack generally takes about 10-20 minutes.  
  2. Stay with the student and stay calm. 
  3. Ask the student what they need.  
  4. Make sure the student is in a quiet place if at all possible.  
  5. Speak to the student in brief, calming statements. "you can get through this, I am going to help you stay safe". "let's focus on taking one breath at a time".  
  6. Help the student slow down breathing, demonstrating deep breaths yourself and or by counting slowly from 1-10 
  7. Offer to help the student get to resource they might need after they have calmed down.  You can offer to contact a friend or family member, connect them with Counseling and Psychological Services, or contact Public Safety
Plus IconWhat to do if a student is expressing thoughts of suicide?

In most cases, talking to the student and referring the student to Counseling & Psychological Services (CPS) is the best option.  If you are concerned about the student's immediate safety, please contact Public Safety at (585) 475-3333 for on-campus emergencies or dial 911 for off-campus emergencies.  See also Get Help Now.   

The following website includes a comprehensive list about how to respond to a person who might express thoughts of suicide.

Plus IconWhat happens during a crisis appointment?

Crisis Appointment Steps 


During a crisis appointment, a therapist will talk with you to assess the situation and provide immediate support. Sometimes talking through a crisis situation with a therapist will be all that is needed.  
If you are seeking information regarding the safety or wellbeing of someone else, we will listen carefully to your concerns and assist you in developing a plan of action.      
Safety Planning:  
After assessing for your immediate safety needs and wellness, the therapist will also help you to plan for your future safety and wellness, and a plan for linking to further services if needed.  This may include a plan for self-care, a plan for seeking family or other natural supports.  We will help you decide the best course of action to meet your needs. 
If you are concerned about the safety and well-being of someone else, we will work with you to develop a plan to address the concerns you may have.  
Follow-up Plan: 
The therapist will help you decide what to do in the longer term to help prevent future crisis, to link you to any needed resources, information or referrals.  The therapist may suggest ideas for your to try at home, provide you with additional resources and information to read, or offer  suggestions for how to respond if the problem comes back.