Watching a close friend struggle with mental health issues is difficult. You want to support them, but you may not know how. About 1 in 5 adults in the United States live with a mental illness, so you are not alone in this experience. Many people do not understand mental illness, making it hard to know how to support a friend. So here are some tips on how you can be a good ally to your friend during their time of need.
Educate Yourself on Mental Health Issues
The first step in being a good ally is to educate yourself on mental health issues. This way, you can be better informed on what your friend is going through and how to support them best. There are many resources available online and at your local library. Once you have educated yourself, you can begin to converse with your friend about their experiences.
You can also take online mental health courses to better understand different mental illnesses and how to support someone living with one. These courses can help you develop a better understanding of mental health and how to support your friend. If you want to find a mental health course near you, search online or ask your local community center.
It’s important to remember that everyone experiences mental health issues differently, so what works for one person may not work for another. Be patient and understand that your friend may be unable to communicate everything they’re feeling right away. Just being there and listening is often helpful.
Ask How You Can Help
Another way you can support your friend is by asking how you can help. This shows that you care and want to be involved in their recovery process. They may not need or want your help, but it’s essential to offer anyway. Some ways you can help include:
-helping out with day-to-day tasks
-attending therapy appointments with them
-driving them to doctor’s appointments
-checking in on them regularly
-being a sounding board for their thoughts and feelings
Depending on your friend’s needs, you may have to get creative in how you help. The most important thing is that you are there for them when they need you. You want to ensure that your friend knows you are available and willing to help in any way possible. Even if they don’t take you up on your offer, they will appreciate knowing that you are there for them.
Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help
If your friend is struggling with mental health issues, they need to seek professional help. This can be in the form of therapy, medication, or both. You can encourage your friend to seek help by providing resources and information. If they are resistant to seeking help, gently explain why you think it would benefit them.
You can also offer to accompany them to their first therapy appointment or doctor’s visit. This can help ease their anxiety and make them feel more comfortable. You can also help them look for a therapist or doctor to meet their needs.
Respecting your friend’s decision if they choose not to seek professional help is essential. You want to ensure they know you support their decision and are still there for them. Many people do not seek help for their mental health due to the stigma surrounding mental illness. It’s essential to be understanding and supportive, even if they don’t make the decision you think is best for them. As a friend, you can be an advocate for mental health, but ultimately, the decision lies with your friend.
Create a Supportive Environment
Finally, creating a supportive environment is essential if you live with your friend or see them regularly. This means being understanding and respectful of their needs. It also means having open and honest conversations about mental health. If your friend is comfortable, you can even ask them what they need from you to feel supported.
Not every conversation about mental health will be easy, but having them is important. These conversations can help break down the stigma and create a more open and understanding environment. For example, if they have anxiety, you can ask them what you can do to help make them feel more comfortable. This way, they know you are willing to accommodate their needs and want to make things easier for them.
Always be understanding, patient, and respectful when discussing their mental health with your friend. This will create a safe and supportive environment for them. But don’t walk on eggshells around them – they need your support, not your pity. You should also avoid giving unsolicited advice, as this can be frustrating for your friend. Instead, focus on listening to them and providing support.
Supporting a close friend struggling with mental health issues can be difficult, but there are many ways you can help. Depending on your friend’s needs, you can offer your support using different methods. Always be respectful, understanding, and patient when talking to your friend about their mental health. If you are unsure of what to do, you can always consult with a mental health professional.