How To Help A Friend With Their Mental Health?

Life is full of ups and downs, obstacles, success and failures, happiness and sadness. Everyone’s reaction to changes and events of life are different. That’s what makes each one of us unique. A number of times, we come across a situation which we don’t know how to handle but while going through it, we learn how to deal with it. We are social beings, our friends and family are important to us. If anything happens to them and affects them, we want to help them, be there for them and support them. Sometimes we are unaware of their problem and are unable to understand it due to a lot of reasons like stigma related to that construct, lack of information about it and so on.

There is also a possibility to learn about new things, work upon yourself and learn ways to be helpful and supportive for your loved ones. If your friend or loved one is going through a mental health issue, there are some ways through which you can recognize it, be a good ally and a supportive friend and help them through that situation. Social support is found to be very effective and helpful for an individual who is going through mental health issues.

Here are some of the warning signs which can help you gauge if your friends are having some mental health issues. These are as follows-

  • They seem to lose interest in their hobbies or things they loved.
  • They seem sad or angry for a few days.
  • You notice a drastic change in their personality, behaviour or lifestyle.
  • They seem to worry a lot in their day-to-day activities.
  • Changes in their pattern of eating, sleeping and day-to-day activities.
  • They have been missing more and more time from work and school. 
  • They told you that they can hear some voices.
  • They are using substances to cope with the situation.
  • They are talking about their life or being hopeless.
  • They are avoiding meeting their close friends and family members.
  • They find it difficult to stay concentrated.
  • They are indulging in risk-taking behaviour.

These are some of the signs if you find some in your friends and find yourself in a position where you are confused about how to support, and what are the things you can do for them or how you can communicate with them.

These are some ways by which you can help them by being a supportive and helpful friend. These are as follows-

  • To be a good ally to someone who is dealing with mental health issues. 
  • You need to be aware and educate yourself about it.
  •  Check on your loved one and ask how you can help.  
  • Be careful with your words. 
  • Express empathy and care.
  • At your level, you can try to spread awareness around mental health by starting a conversation about it, breaking the stigma and through social media.  
  • Take care of yourself as well. 

The way to approach them is to start a conversation. It is difficult to start a conversation as you feel that you don’t know all the answers and the right way to start it. The language and words you use can have an impact on the person going through mental health issues. It is important to be careful about your language and the way you frame the sentence. It’s okay to not know all the answers, just offer them support by being there and listening to them. Here are some of the ways by which you can start a conversation- 

  • I have noticed (express the changes that you have noticed in them), I want to let you know that I am here to listen if you want to share about it?
  • I want to help you, what can I do for you?

In conversations, show support, empathy, care and be open to help them by listening or by finding professional help.

  • You can be there for them when they want to share, check upon them on a regular basis, express that their condition will not affect your friendship with them, help them find professional support or helplines, remind them about their strengths and how much they matter to you. Sometimes being there with them will be very helpful for them.
  • You can help them in work or personal life if they need support. 
  • There are certain things which you should never say to your friend who is going through this situation such as – ” Just get over it”, “Snap out”, “You are overreacting or doing it for attention”, ” You don’t look like a depressed person”, “You are just being lazy”, “it is fine”,  and “toughen up yourself.”
  • Try to include your friend in your plans or do what they want to do. For example, stay with them at home, spend some time talking or doing things they want to do, etc. 
  • You can say certain things to your friend who is going through mental health issues such as “ how can I help?”, “If you want to talk about it? I am here”, “that sounds really difficult, how are you coping with it?”, “ Thank you for sharing it with me”, and  “This must be hard for you but you will get through it”.
  • Take care of yourself as well.

This article will help you in understanding by noticing certain warning signs in your friends if they are dealing with mental health issues. It also talks about how to be a good ally and support them. It will help you in being there for your friends or loved ones during their difficult times. Be there and support your friends or loved ones through their journey of healing and do take care of yourself also.

Find a BUDDY to share all your problems with (even anonymously, if you want) on the FeelJoy Mobile App available for all Android users.

DOWNLOAD THE FEELJOY APP HERE.

Pursuing Masters in Psychology ( Delhi University) Curious about Psychology, writer by expressivity ! Expression of human thoughts via words is one of the biggest achievements of mankind. "Run to rescue with love and peace will follow"- Joaquin Phoenix
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