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We all need support in our lives. Our friends and supporters are there to celebrate successes and help us through difficult times. When a friend seems to be struggling or is experiencing a mental health problem, they may be feeling alone, so support from a friend like you is even more important.
Information for young people about how to support a friend who is struggling with the way they're feeling.
This is also available in Welsh. If your friend is going through a difficult time or is struggling with the way they're feeling it can be hard to know what to do. Are you looking for ways you can help them? Or worried about their safety? We're here to help. Emily from Mind's Policy and Campaigns team shares some tips on how you can support a friend with their mental health. Supporting a friend who's going through a difficult time can be hard and you might not notice how much it affects you.
It's okay to feel upset, shocked, or angry from how they're acting. It's really important to make sure you look after yourself, so that you stay well and you're still able to help your friend.
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You could:. Sometimes it's hard to know if someone's struggling with their mental health, because everyone can act differently when they're going through a tough time. Finding the words to start talking to your friend about how they're feeling can be difficult. But really, there's no wrong way to begin and however you do it, they'll probably just appreciate you're trying.
Here are some examples of conversation starters to get an idea:.
What can i say to help my friend?
If your friend doesn't want to talk, try not to pressure them. They will open up to you, or someone else they trust, when they're ready. Knowing how to help a friend who's going through a difficult time can be hard.
You might not know what to do, or worry that you're not doing enough, but you're most likely doing what you can. Here are some things you could try:. If your friend has opened up and it actually feels too much for you to handlethat's okay. You can thank them for talking to you, but explain how you're feeling. If you're able to, offer to help them find more support on our site. And don't forget to look after yourself too. But remember this won't last forever. If a friend is acting differently online and it worries you, it's nice to want to support them - but you're not responsible for their safety.
You can:. If a friend tells you something and asks you to keep it a secret, it's normal to not want to break their trust, or worry they might fall out with you if you tell someone. But if you don't feel comfortable with what they've told you, or you think they, or someone else could be in danger, you could:.
Although it might feel like you're breaking their trust, it's important to tell a trusted adult about what your friend has said, to make sure you're both safe. If your friend won't accept help from you or the people around them, it can be upsetting, annoying and can make you feel powerless. But try and remember there's only so much you can dolike:. If you're worried that your friend is in any form of danger, or they might hurt themselves or someone else, it's important not to deal with it on your own :.
Worrying about their safety can be exhausting, so it's good to look after yourself as well.
Challenge #1: tap into your friends of friends network
See our on looking after yourself for some ideas. References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our on permissions and licensing. Coronavirus: Find our information and support and more on our work. How to support a friend — for young people Information for young people about how to support a friend who is struggling with the way they're feeling.
How do I support my friend? This has information on: Looking after yourself s someone may be struggling How can I ask if they're okay? Tips on supporting a friend What if I've been asked to keep a secret? What if they don't want help? What if I'm worried about their safety? Emily's tips Emily from Mind's Policy and Campaigns team shares some tips on how you can support a friend with their mental health. Looking after yourself Supporting a friend who's going through a difficult time can be hard and you might not notice how much it affects you.
1. friendship is different than the “friend zone.”
You could: Try not to take on too much — supporting someone on your own can be a big responsibility. Try to encourage them to reach out to other people they trust too, like their family, teachers or other adults they are close to. Set boundaries — like letting them know what support they can expect from you, so you can draw a line at how much you can do for your friends and when. Think about how it affects you — if supporting your friend becomes overwhelming, or starts affecting your mood, sleep, or eating, it's important to let them know you have to take some time for yourself.
Look after your wellbeing — remember to take time for yourself and do things that help you relax. See our information on looking after your wellbeing for tips on things you can try. Talk about your own feelings with someone you trust - if you want to talk things over confidentially, Childline and The Mix both have counsellors you can speak to. s someone might be struggling Sometimes it's hard to know if someone's struggling with their mental health, because everyone can act differently when they're going through a tough time.
Some of the ways people might act differently are: seeming distant, or not themselves not meeting up or responding to messages as much as normal spending more time on their own not chatting, smiling or laughing as much showing lower self-esteem talking about feelings that worry you, or saying 'I can't do it any more' not doing things they normally like crying or shouting smoking, drinking, or using drugs when they didn't before.
Some of the physical changes you might notice in people are: not dressing like they used to gaining or losing weight eating too much or too little can't concentrate looking tired not washing or taking care of themselves hurting themselves on purpose. How can I ask if they're ok? Here are some examples of conversation starters to get an idea: 'Hey, I'm here for you if you want to talk.
How are you? Is everything okay? Is there anything you want to talk about? What's been happening? Tips on supporting a friend Knowing how to help a friend who's going through a difficult time can be hard.
Here are some things you could try: Find a time to talk — it can help to find somewhere quiet where you're not going to be interrupted or overheard by others. You can check out our conversation starters for some ideas on how to start the conversation. Listen to them — just listening can make a huge difference to how someone feels.
If they're finding it difficult to talk, let them know you're there when they're ready. Comfort them — there isn't a wrong thing to say. But you could try 'you won't always feel like this' or 'you're not alone in this — there's lot of people who care about you'. Ask them what would help — it could just be being there for them, or they might want help talking to an adult or looking for support options. Encourage them to find support - like talking to a trusted adult like a parent, teacher, doctor or someone else they trust. You could even offer to go with them to talk to them.
For more ideas on where to find support, see our on finding support. Do the things you both enjoy together — sometimes just doing the normal things you do together like watching a film or going for a walk can make a big difference to how they're feeling. Keep in contact — ask them how they're doing, keep inviting them to in, and keep sending the occasional message just to check in, even if they don't reply. Do something nice — like just sending a message to make them smile or laugh, or planning something small for them to look forward to, like a sleepover or a trip to the cinema.
Be patient — your friendship might feel different for a while, but there will still be good times and they will be glad if you can stick by them.
What if I'm worried about someone online? You can: tell a trusted adult if it's on social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, you can report the situation on the site if you think someone might hurt themselves or could be in any other form of immediate danger, call or ask an adult to. What if I've been asked to keep a secret?
How do i support my friend?
But if you don't feel comfortable with what they've told you, or you think they, or someone else could be in danger, you could: ask them to tell an adult they trust themselves tell them that you need to tell someone because you are worried about them, but you can ask if there is someone they would prefer you to talk to. What if they won't let me help? But try and remember there's only so much you can dolike: give them time - they might not be ready to open up to you right now and might find it easier when they've had more time let them know you're there for them if they ever want to talk, or just hang out send them information on finding supportto read when they're ready.
If you're worried that your friend is in any form of danger, or they might hurt themselves or someone else, it's important not to deal with it on your own : tell a trusted adult as soon as you canlike a parent or teacher.
If you feel comfortable, you can tell your friend you're going to do this so they expect it. They may not like it, or ask you not to, but their safety is important if it's an emergencyask an adult to call or to take them to the hospital. Was this useful?
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