Few Ways to Help and Support a Struggling Friend
If you have a friend who is mentally ill, or who uses drugs or alcohol to cope, you should know that untreated emotional issues can have significant repercussions. These issues can lead to addiction, risky actions, or suicidal thoughts.
When asked who they would turn to for emotional assistance, most individuals choose their friends. Are you ready to aid a buddy in need? What would you do?
How to Know if a Friend Is Struggling Emotionally
Balancing all of life’s responsibilities — school, job, relationships — can be hard and many people get overwhelmed, worried, and overextended while trying. Sometimes it can be difficult to discern whether a friend is coping with ordinary problems or a larger one.
A troubled friend may require professional assistance to improve their ability to cope with stress. They also may be suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety disorders, which all require attention and treatment.
Here are a few signs that would let you know if a friend needs help dealing with emotional issues or a mental health problem:
- Depression or apathy that results in less participation in social activities
- Lack of management of day-to-day issues and extreme reactions to certain situations
- Extreme highs, rushed thoughts, bursts of energy, sleeplessness, and compulsive behavior
- Severe anxiety or stress
- Constant feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
What Can You Do?
How you respond to a friend who is showing signs of distress or a possible mental health issue is dependent upon the nature of your relationship. If you have a longstanding friendship with the person, you may be a valuable source of support. If the person is a more recent acquaintance (such as a roommate or classmate) you may need to alert others.
Even if you don’t fully grasp the situation or its severity, your responsibility is to be supportive and encourage them to get help from family, friends, or a medical expert. It might be that, despite your best efforts, your friend may be resistant to the idea of having an emotional condition and may not respond well to your help.
Your friend might say that the best way to help is to just “let them be,” but it is important that you don’t:
- Allow them to succeed by covering up for unfulfilled commitments
- Engage in habits around them that could agitate their mental health
- Reduce the significance of getting professional treatment
What to Say to a Friend Who’s Struggling
Taking on the emotional load of a buddy in distress may be highly difficult and taxing. It’s always important to remember to set boundaries and look after your own emotional well-being as well.
While it is natural for us to ask, “What’s wrong?” when we observe someone who is sad, angry, or anxious, a person with a mental health problem may experience thoughts or sensations that are unrelated to a specific scenario or occurrence. It’s crucial to be patient and sympathetic when approaching a friend who is exhibiting indicators of a problem or experiencing emotional pain.
You may not understand how your friend is feeling, and discussing personal and emotional concerns may feel uncomfortable or embarrassing, but you can listen and let them know they aren’t alone.
A few things you can say to a friend in need (that will make them feel better):
- We all have our ups and downs: Because asking for help can be perceived as a sign of weakness, you can reassure your friend by telling them about a moment when you or someone you know struggled and needed support.
- You’ll feel a lot better: Your friend may feel hopeless or as if no one understands or can assist them and it’s critical to show them that seeking treatment is the first step toward feeling better. Because mental health issues are curable and controllable if discovered, we all may require an occasional mental check-up similar to other medical examinations.
- It’s perfectly OK to seek assistance: Keep in mind that our histories, cultures, and experiences can all have an impact on how we approach seeking help. Some people may come from homes or cultures where seeking help or consulting a mental health professional is frowned upon or seen as a sign of weakness. Consider why a friend might be hesitant to seek assistance.
If you have struggled with mental health issues, you may have received some well-intentioned but ineffective advice and been upset by their consequences. Mountain Peak Recovery can assist you in gaining the confidence to seek better mental health treatment. We are nestled in the beautiful Wasatch Mountains, which provide a haven of solitude and a respite from the stresses of everyday life. We can help you rediscover your voice by addressing issues such as substance use disorders and mental health illnesses. To begin your rehabilitation journey, call us today at (801) 824-8829.