My brother is severely depressed and has absolutely minimal support, in any form, from my family. He’s a very bright guy with no direction and no resources at home. After graduating from high school, he spent 3 years at a dysfunctional relative’s home playing video games, and finally enrolled in college after I badgered him the entire time in-between.

He chose not to enroll for the second year of college. He stayed at home playing games again. He “did not like” school except for one course, where he happened to have a minor friendship with a professor. This professor nominated my brother’s essay for a departmental honor. My brother rarely has good news, and when he does he often does not voluntarily share it. So for him to offer this story up to me makes it stand out.

This professor almost certainly knows my brother has some sort of problems. There are cases when you can just look at someone and know; my brother is one of those cases. But, given that this prof nominated my brother’s essay for a departmental honor, I think that the prof at least somewhat believes my brother is capable of some sort of achievement (I think my brother is even brighter and more capable than me, but I know him differently).

I want to reach out to brother’s professor and ask him to inquire about my brother’s situation. Going to college is the best chance my brother has to break a generational cycle, but he does not know this, and he will not listen to me (I am only 3 years older than him, he may think I’m a similarly clueless peer). This prof, on the other hand, is a person who my brother might listen to. Presumably the professor also agrees with my assessment of what an education can do for a life. I sense that this idea might get backlash – e.g. this is not the prof’s responsibility, that it is rude to even ask, and perhaps if the prof cared he would have reached out on his own already. However, on the other hand, this prof probably went into this business with the hopes of changing the world for the better, and thirty minutes or an hour of his time might change someone’s life. Plus, he has no reason to know just how dire my brother’s situation is (there are plenty of loser-looking people with average to robust support networks – but my brother does not). I plan on contacting the prof, either via email or phone. What I ask you is for advice on how to tactfully and effectively make this ask.

The end goal is to get my brother back in school and to encourage my brother to build his own support network, and to know that it is impossible to succeed without one. I accept that I might get a flat out “no,” but for the sake of this thread let’s assume that he agrees to something small like a phone call or a coffee (I assume he is kind enough to oblige, plus he seems to have liked my brother somewhat). Also, how should I handle the corollary issues that my ask might raise? For example, I don’t want to make this prof feel like I am asking him to be a mentor to my brother or that this will create some enduring obligation. Moreover, I can’t expect this prof to know how to deal with people the same way a therapist would. Is it appropriate to suggest that the professor suggest therapy (which is what’s truly needed here) to my brother? There are more things that may come up, but for the sake of ending this post, I’ll end it here. Many thanks to you all.

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