Everyone has difficult periods in their lives, that they often cannot face alone.
Yet, a third of young people feel more anxious now than this time last year. If you have a struggling friend, here are practical ways you can help.
Whether it is mental health issues or school/work life, there is nothing as good as a comforting friend nearby.
Talk it out
First, find out what is upsetting your friend. Talking can be a way of addressing the situation and it’s a good way to remove some of the thoughts from their head. By talking you can be the person they can lean on. If they are struggling with school related issues, see if you are able to offer your assistance and help with extra revision. If the issues are rooted more within mental health problems, let them speak and offer your advice.
Make them a care package
Care packages are a form of support that can be done even when you live far away. Fill a box with snacks, a book, makeup or even some tea and make-up. It might seem cliché but it’s a creative way that most don’t think of and is a fantastic way to let your friend know you are there for them.
Besides talking with your friend, you need to actually be there. Reassure them that you are not going anywhere, and that they can rely on you for support. They may not always talk straight away or open up, but be patient. Wait for them to come to you, or ask a guidance counsellor for appropriate advice. Make sure you are empathetic and genuine, check out this video by Brené Brown to find out exactly what that means.
, especIf your friend suffers with anxiety, a great remedy is distraction. Make tangible suggestions, such as: “Should we watch that new film on Friday?”, or “Let’s take a long drive together and sing really loudly.” The point is to do something enjoyable, even if you live far away you can still distract them. Schedule regular Skype calls or Snapchat each other just to check in.
Give them a ride
Being mentally ill and not having access to a car can be really tough. Walking around or using public transport can be a tough task when suffering from any mental illness, especially depression. If you have a car, offer to drive. Even if you don’t, if they catch the train to school and/or work, ask to sit with them or accompany them.
Your friend trusts you for a reason,. This trust that will allow you to help and support them in their time of need. The most important thing for you to do is always be open to listening and offering your advice.
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