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to ask what to say to someone on the phone who seems anxious/depressed

(11 Posts)
SusanPerkins Tue 08-Mar-16 18:06:38

Niece is at university and getting anxious/depressed about exams etc. Sometimes when I phone her she sounds so unhappy and I know she has sought medication for anxiety/depression previously.

I listen to her but often she will just say the odd word in response to something I ask and then I struggle to know what to say and how to support

AIBU to ask for some tips on what to say that might be helpful to DN.

CaughtUpNearTimbuktu Tue 08-Mar-16 18:08:16

'we love you' is sometimes enough

MegGriffin1 Tue 08-Mar-16 18:53:57

You sound like a good aunty xx

SusanPerkins Wed 09-Mar-16 07:32:54

Thanks Caught and Meg. Yes, a good Auntie but often lacking the vocabulary to be as supportive as I'd like to be.

PageStillNotFound404 Wed 09-Mar-16 07:47:41

Keep listening, keep reassuring. Do you know if she has accessed the services offered by her university's Open Door /welfare team or equivalent? I work at a uni and so many students don't approach our ODT until they're at crisis point or beyond, when if they'd been able to bring themselves to seek help earlier things could have worked out very differently and much more in her favour. So if the conversation lends itself, maybe check whether she knows such services exist precisely for people like her and there's no stigma or shame in using them - hell, half her lecturemates are probably already known to the support advisers.

Lots of telling her you're proud of her (but without implying that's conditional on her completing uni/getting a good degree) and that you love her and will always be there for her. And just letting her be silent on the phone.

You sound like a lovely aunt and she's lucky to have you.

OnceMoreIntoTheBleach Wed 09-Mar-16 07:56:30

How long has she been at uni? Are you able to just ask her outright what's wrong and if she's unhappy? Is she maybe talking to you because she feels she can't talk to her parents, esp if she is worried that uni or her course isn't for her?

Of course, it could be a completely different reason rather than 'I think I want to leave', but this happened to me, so I'm speculating.

Maybe instead trying to say the right thing, concentrate on getting her to open up about her feelings, let her know that you are there to support whatever she thinks and feels. If she is by any chance considering leaving or something like that, she really needs to know that she has support and won't be disappointing people, so do be careful with 'proud of you' angle.

She might really appreciate having a non-parent who she can explore her concerns with and then help support any decisions she makes.

SuburbanRhonda Wed 09-Mar-16 08:00:33

You don't really need to say much. Just listen and be sympathetic.

Most universities do have good pastoral support but I would avoid suggesting she approaches them as she may find that impossible. My DD certainly did - she couldn't talk to anyone at her college about how she was feeling. It might be better to ask if she can think of anything that would help.

redexpat Wed 09-Mar-16 08:06:21

Is there anything I can do to help?

RockUnit Wed 09-Mar-16 09:20:12

Perhaps ask if she feels she's getting enough support, and what support services are available to her? If it seems appropriate you could suggest a visit to the GP or university counselling service to see if there's anything they can help with.

AliceScarlett Wed 09-Mar-16 09:26:21

Validate her, tell her her thoughts and feelings are really understandable in response to what she is coping with.

Footle Wed 09-Mar-16 10:07:30

Have a look at the Samaritans' website.

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