University of North Carolina – Greensboro
The Friends Helping Friends program is designed to create a network of informed peers who are equipped to act as referral sources for students in need. Many factors – stress, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, transition issues, loneliness – that put students at risk for suicide or attempted suicide (Kadison & DiGeronimo, 2004) can be treated before the situation reaches the stage of suicide if students can be connected with available mental health services (Kadison, 2004). Unfortunately, 80-90% of college students who die by suicide do not seek help from their college counseling centers (Kisch, Leino, & Silverman, 2005) and only a minority of those at potential risk seek counseling services (Furr, Westefeld, McConnell, & Jenkins, 2001; Kisch et al., 2005). A recent study (Eisenberg, Golberstein, & Gollust, 2007), for example, found that among college students who screened positive for depression or anxiety between 37% and 84% (depending on the disorder) did not seek services.Given the amount of time that students spend with friends, classmates, and fellow student organization members, peers represent an important and overlooked ally in campus prevention programs related to suicide and other mental and behavioral health issues. These students can act as reliable sources of mental and behavioral health information and help to humanize the help seeking process.