If you have noticed that your friend is feeling low or anxious recently, the chances are that they may be struggling with their mental health. As a friend, it can be difficult to know what to do for the best. You want to help them to get better, but you also don’t want to pry. You want to be present but you don’t want to smother. You want to invite them to social gatherings but you don’t want to pile on the pressure. Helping out a friend isn’t as tricky as it sounds if your motivations are good and you follow these tips.
Be a Listening Ear
A key aspect of being a great friend is listening. Your friend is more likely to open up if they are not worried about feeling judged or patronized. Head around for coffee and take some cake and have a good old time! This doesn’t have to be about your friend’s problems discreetly, but it can be a good way in, to let them know that you are here for them. If they start talking about their worries or depression, simply listen. Don’t interject and allow them to talk. Talking and sharing a problem releases a lot of pressure and stress. Sharing their concerns with you will help them unburden and feel lighter. You can offer advice if asked, but by simply allowing them to release their worries, you are helping.
If your close friend is struggling with trauma or substance abuse, the chances are that you will want to get them to a shelter or a drug rehab. However, this can only happen positively if you give them the time to ask for help. By intervening and sending them to a facility for help, you are forcing them into a situation that they will rebel against. While hard to watch, you have to wait for them to ask for specific intervention. Only then will it become more meaningful and stand any chance of working. Ensure that you are always there for your friend as and when they need you.
Any sort of trauma, depression or anxiety can make people feel isolated. Your friend will be no different. They may retreat and become hermit-like, feeling anxious at the thought of mingling at a social gathering even though they appear so confident. Just because they don’t fancy heading out doesn’t mean you can head over to their house for a night in. And always continue to invite your friend to social events. Yes, they may say no, but one day they will have a change of heart and say yes once more. Giving up on them may make them feel like a failure. Just by thinking of them, you will be giving them hope that one day they will feel up to the dinner party at a pal’s house or a night at the movies or a summer garden party.
Being there for your friend in their time of crisis really shows what your friendship is made of. It’s easy to be there for someone when times are good and there are laughs to be shared. It is when things get tougher, that a true friendship shines.2