Need help now? Text "START" to 741-741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Articles

Depositphotos_4719641_resized

It can be tough to start this conversation, so a good tip to begin is by mentioning specific example(s) of what makes you concerned. For example, you can say, “I’m worried about you because you seem…” (sad, withdrawn, angry) or, “I’ve been noticing that you stay in bed most days and are missing a lot of classes”. You can follow your statement by asking, “What’s going on?” or “What can I do to help?” If they are hesitant to talk about it or shrug you off, you might say, “It’s okay if you don’t want to talk to me, but it is important that you talk to someone”, then offer to help them connect with your school’s counseling center or other mental health services.

When a friend does open up to you, it’s important to be patient and supportive and to listen with an open mind. You might not be able to relate to how your friend is feeling and it may be uncomfortable to have this conversation, but again, even just listening is a huge help.

Here are some key points to try to convey to your friend in need:

Let them know that they are not alone, and that we all go through tough times. Experiencing emotional distress can be very isolating, making a person feel as if they’re the only ones feeling how they’re feeling. They may also view asking for help as a sign of weakness. Comfort your friend by telling them about a time you or someone else you know struggled and needed support, and tell them how you/someone else went about getting help to feel better (but – avoid focusing the conversation on your problems since this may feel uncaring).

They can feel better. Your friend may be feeling hopeless or like no one understands what they are going through, which can make them hesitant to seek help. Let your friend know that reaching out for support is the first step to feeling better, and that once properly evaluated and understood, mental health issues are treatable and manageable. Help your friend realize that we all need mental check-ups in the same way that we need physical ones, and that professional support (therapy, medication) CAN help if it is needed.

It’s OK to ask for help. A person’s culture, background and experiences all play a major role in how they perceive help-seeking. Your friend in distress may have grown up in a family or culture where talking about one’s mental health and help-seeking were shunned or discouraged. Therefore, when a friend seems reluctant to get help, it might be because of their upbringing or past negative experiences. Keep these factors in mind when deciding how to suggest they reach out for help, but also reinforce the fact that it is OK – sensible and brave even – to seek help when needed.

If you are concerned about a friend harming themselves or someone else, it is important that you don’t try to deal with the situation alone. You can call the National Lifeline Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK for guidance, contact your school’s counseling center, or use the SAMHSA referral and provider link to find mental health services near you. If you believe they are in crisis or need immediate help please call 911 or take them to the nearest Emergency Department.

Back to Help a Friend

How To Tell if a Friend is Struggling

What You Can Do To Help

Noticing Problems on Facebook & How to Help a Friend