The stigma surrounding mental health is slowly diminishing thanks to growing awareness of depression and anxiety. With up to 25% of people suffering some sort of mental health issue this year, the chances are you may know someone directly affected. It can be hard to know what to say or how to act when you meet up with a pal going through a bout of depression or anxiety. You don’t want to say the wrong thing or make your friend feel self-conscious in any way. While it may be difficult at first, it’s vital that you are that listening ear, that helping hand and the person you always have been to your friend in need. Take a look at this essential guide to helping a friend with depression.
It’s common to hear of friends rapidly disappearing when a pal informs them that they are going through a rough time with their mental health. Fear of the unknown makes people retreat which is the worst thing you can do for a friend who needs support. Pop over to their home, invite them out for drinks and simply let them know that you’ll be there. Be honest and say that you have no idea how you can help but that you will if you can. By merely being present in their life, you are showing that you are part of a support network that they can call upon at any time.
It’s a delicate balance to strike, but if you are aware of an underlying problem that may be causing their depression, you could help them address this. If addiction is an issue and your friend is ready to take the first step in overcoming their vice, be there to support them. This handy drug rehabilitation guide details the sorts of programmes and treatments people can undertake. Ensure that you keep telling your friend that you are proud of them and that you’ll support them. Facing up to a problem and trying to overcome it is one of the bravest and most challenging things anyone ever has to accomplish. Recognise this and encourage your friend to persevere even when things seem bleak.
There’s nothing worse than thinking too hard about a situation, over analysing and doing the wrong thing. Don’t not invite your buddy out because they are unwell. This can lead to them feeling isolated and left out. Instead, let them make the decision. Keep all social gatherings the same; invite them to the cinema, for a meal out or for drinks. This can take their mind away from their worries even if it’s just for a short while. At the same time, don’t feel neglected if they constantly turn down your invites or want to be alone. This is part of mental illness. Just be there when they do (and they will) finally say yes to catching up over coffee.
Mental illness isn’t always an affliction that needs a prescription for pills, and then everything is hunky dory again. Often people need to reflect, find the cause and work through a series of emotions before they get better. However, by being a present friend and showing your unwavering support, you can help your pal overcome their depression.