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How to help a friend who is struggling with their mental health

When you're having a stressful day, there's nothing better than talking to a bestie who shows you cat memes and listens to you vent. But what should you do when you're the one who's feeling alright and you see your friend grappling with a tough situation? There are several ways to help a friend who's struggling with their mental health and make a huge difference in their life. 

"I think good mental health is just as important as physical health and it can affect our daily functioning so it's important to pay attention to our mental health," said licensed clinical social worker Joanne Tuell. 

Signs your friend is struggling

If your friend doesn't come to you and tell you they're having a hard time, it can be hard to notice when they're anxious or upset. Luckily, there are many signs to look for. 

"I think some of the signs you should look for are; if any of your friends are having difficulty sleeping, they're not eating enough or overeating or they're withdrawing from social situations, those are some of the basic signs of depression," Tuell says. "If you notice your friend might be feeling like their heart is pounding, their hands are sweaty, they're hyperventilating or they're not able to focus, that could be a sign that they're having a panic attack or feeling very anxious." 

Show your friend that you care

One of the best ways to help a friend is just through being there for them, whether it be telling them you care and giving them a hug or participating in some relaxing coping skills such as yoga or mindfulness

"I think it's important, first of all, to ask how somebody's doing and let them know that you're a safe person and that you're there to help them," adds Tuell. 

Talk to a trusted adult

When you or your friend is having mental health issues, it can often feel like you have to bear the burden on your own. This loneliness and isolation can often make things worse, though. Most times, the best thing to do is to talk to an adult you trust, even if it seems scary. This step is crucial if your friend is thinking about harming themself. 

"Let them know that you might not have all the answers and sometimes you might need to talk to a trusted adult," Tuell explains. "You might ask your friend if they feel comfortable going to their counselor or really any adult they feel comfortable with. If they don't feel comfortable going by themselves, you might offer to go with them."

Resources

Remember that there are countless resources available if you or your friends are struggling. Reaching out can be daunting, but it can also be extremely beneficial. Here are a few resources that you can use:

Text the free Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Check out The Trevor Project for LGBTQ+ mental health resources.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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by Delilah Brumer | 8/2/2021
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