Is your friend struggling with managing their budget and financial costs?
Suggest applying for financial aid at school (OSAP, bursaries or in-course awards).
If your friend is looking to make money, suggest finding a job through OSCARplus or workingatmcmaster.ca for jobs on and nearby to campus. The work-study program McWork is also available to support students who are on OSAP find jobs on campus.
If your friend is looking to save or manage their money more efficiently, Mac’s Money Centre might have some answers. Their workshops, personal finance counsellors, and resources can be accessed by visiting http://money.mcmaster.ca.
There are also a number of different strategies to try out like: cooking at home, making a coffee at home rather than buying it or purchasing a presto card if they are a frequent Go Bus user.
Is your friend feeling anxious or depressed?
Try reaching out when your friend is comfortable and give space when needed. Be a good listener! Sometimes people are looking for empathy and support rather than sympathy and advice.
Discover what your friend enjoys doing and try doing those activities together, it may seem like a temporary solution but this might be needed at the moment.
If a difficult situation arises, recommend that your friend seek help from a professional, and offer to walk them to or attend the session together. Suggest on campus resources such as SHEC, the Peer Support Line, the SAS Ally Program, and the Student Wellness Centre. Some off-campus resources that you could suggest are: Good2Talk and St. Joseph’s Youth Wellness Centre.
Do you have friends who are struggling with balancing academics and social life?
University is a combination of getting involved academically and socially. Committing to one non-academic activity weekly can provide an opportunity for socialization. These activities could be leadership programs like the Student Success Leader program, volunteer opportunities in the Hamilton community or engaging in an intramural sports team at DBAC.
For support with managing academic workloads for specific courses, encourage your friend to attend their professor’s office hours, meet with TAs and talk with other students in their class.
To balance social life and academics, suggest connecting with peer study groups on-line through Avenue and off-line to study and review class notes together.
To refine their academic skills suggest the support services offered through the Student Success Centre on academic and life skills development, writing supports, English language support and they even have tutors available!
Are you concerned about your friend’s eating habits or body image?
Be mindful of participating in gossip, instead, ensure that if you are mentioning your concern for a friend, that it is done in confidence and with respect.
Educate yourself on the available resources such as the Student Wellness Centre for counselling and medical supports, peer supports such as SHEC, the Peer Support Line and clubs like Mac Alliance for Body Peace.
Know that it can be difficult to raise concerns because you do not want to offend or embarrass your friend, however, addressing your feelings shows that you care. Let your friend be autonomous in taking the next step and do not control your friend’s eating and exercise choices.
Is your friend struggling with relationship problems?
Remember your role is to be a good friend, not a therapist.
Don’t talk too much about yourself. Do be a good listener.
Don’t criticize or be judgmental. Do try to empathize with what your friend is going through.
Don’t be overly positive with uncertain phrases such as, “This is just a phase,” as this might not be true and you could be minimizing the issue. Do express concern and tell them that their problem can be overcome with the right supports in place.
Don’t try to fix the problem. If your friend asks for advice, try to support them with finding the answer on their own. This will taken an open mind and an encouraging friend. Do suggest that your friend access the appropriate resources whether it be the Student Wellness Centre, the Peer Support Line, the Student Health Education Centre, SACHA or Good2Talk.