3 Ways to Support a Friend Struggling with Mental Health
Discussing mental health with a friend, or anyone for that matter, can be extremely difficult. Even now as mental healthcare has become more accessible and more widely spoken about it can be a very difficult topic to breach, especially in a way that isn’t overbearing or frustrating to the person struggling. However, there are many ways that a person can be supportive without overstepping. Here are three ways to support a friend struggling with their mental health.
Sometimes, no matter how small it may seem, listening is the most important thing a person can do for a friend in need. Having someone there whose job isn’t to fix their problems, but just let them vent can be an extremely beneficial outlet for those who are struggling.
Active listening is a way of listening and responding in a way that’s indicative of you paying attention. Now, this doesn’t mean speaking over the person or answering every few seconds as they speak. It’s just participating in the conversation when there are pauses with validation and/or light questions to show your interest in what they’re saying.
A great example of this is when a person is venting about an experience they have had and they express an emotion they feel (ex: “I’m just so frustrated.”) you can show active listening by validating that feeling (ex: “You have every right to feel that way.”).
Helping out with daily tasks on particularly hard days
When a friend is experiencing difficulty with their mental health, sometimes mundane tasks can be very difficult to complete. Tasks like doing the dishes, washing clothes, or going to the post office can feel nearly impossible.
Helping out a friend, whether it be by assisting them with those tasks or even just by being present with them during those tasks can be a huge relief to those who are struggling with their mental health A good example of this would be going with your friend to the grocery store if they haven’t been in a while to keep them company and help them hold themselves accountable. This is not to say force your friends to do tasks they are having trouble completing, but merely offering to be there to share some of the burden of those tasks and make them feel less daunting.
Ask them what they need from you
A lot of times people who are struggling with their mental health have a hard time asking for help from their friends and family. Asking them what it is they need from you (within the realm of reason, as you are a friend and not a professional), can help skirt the fear of being a burden. No one knows what you need and what you feel better than yourself.
If your friend says they wish to be left alone (in a context where this is a safe option) then leave them alone. If they need you to stick around, then stick around. Being a supportive friend to someone can mean a plethora of things. Making sure you’re being supportive in a way that is within you and your friend’s realm of boundaries and needs is ideal in any situation.