Family members are top of the list for support for many students when they are distressed. They know the student well, are concerned for them and may be able to offer reassurance and understanding. However they may have their own opinions and feelings on what the student should do and there may be some things the student does not wish to share with them.
Sometimes a person's distress may be connected to things that are happening or have happened in their family and they may prefer to talk to someone outside of the situation. It is very much down to the individual to judge what family members can offer them for any given situation.
Friends are a valuable and much used source of support for students during times of distress. They know the student and their situation and may be able to offer reassurance and understanding.
However, there are circumstances in which students may feel that friends cannot be the only source of support. They may be too close to the situation, they will have their own opinions on what the person should do. There may be some things the student does not wish to share with them, and it is not possible to guarantee confidentiality. The student may feel they have used their friends too much already, and friends may be under pressure with their own academic work or other activities.
This is not meant to put anyone off talking to their friends, research has shown that the presence of close confiding friendships are good for our mental health. It is a matter of judgement as to what it is appropriate to take to friends and how much to use them.
Other students who may or not be personal friends can be supportive. They may be on the same course as the student, or live in the same accommodation and may have an understanding of their problems. However, as with friends and family they may have their own opinions on what the student should do. There may be some things the student does not wish to share with them, and confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. The student may feel that they have used a fellow student too much already, since they may be under pressure with their own academic work and other activities.
In some situations there are students who are welfare representatives, residential assistants or in other positions where it is clear that they can be approached. If a student feels that they need a high level of support, other students alone are not likely to meet their needs, however they can play a valuable supportive role. In cases of serious emotional health problems the student should approach their tutor, GP, counselling service or one of the sources of help shown on the Support Map for advice on what to do next.