People of all ages, including children, teens, and young adults, sometimes feel down, depressed, irritable, or sad. If these feelings last longer than two weeks and start to affect parts of daily life such as eating, sleeping, relationships, or school, a person may be experiencing depression.
Help a Friend
Friends help each other out. But sometimes it is hard to know if someone needs help and even harder to know how to help them. How can you help a friend who is struggling with a mental illness?
Learn the Signs
Just a Bad Day? Or Something More?
Everybody has good and bad days, different moods, and feelings. Managing life events, school, work, home, relationships, and family can be stressful at times. But, if a friend is having trouble functioning, it might be time for some extra support.
To find out more about specific concerns, click on the links below.
How to Ask if a Friend Is Okay
Approaching and asking a friend about their mental health can be hard. "How are you feeling?" or "Is there anything you want to talk about?" are not always easy conversations to start. You can get stuck on a lot of "What ifs": "What if they don’t want me to ask?” "What if my question makes them uncomfortable?" Don’t let these concerns hold you back. If you think asking will help, just do it. If you can, approach your friend in an open and non-judgmental manner. Need more ideas about how to ask? Check out How to ask a friend if they're okay.
You asked. Now what?
You have asked how your friend is doing. Now, it is time to respond. But how? Problems are not one size fits all and neither are solutions. Still, it never hurts to say (or repeat) that you care. Share concern, but not panic or judgment.
Try responding with one of the following:
- How can I help?
- I care about you. Is there anything I can do to help you get through this? (Consider offering one specific way in which you think you can help, even if it is something simple.)
- I’m concerned about you, but I’m not sure what to do. Let’s talk to someone about this.
- Can I help you find someone who can help?
- Can I call you tomorrow (next week, etc.)?
Consider How You Can Help
Ask yourself how (and if) you are able to best help. You will help your friend most if you do what you can handle. Can you:
- Check in with your friend again soon?
- Offer to run an errand or help with something until they are feeling better?
- Touch base with others who might also be able to support and help?
- Talk to someone who might be able to guide you?
- Learn more about mental health and wellness?
- Find information and resources to share with your friend?
- Make a plan to talk again soon
- Offer to run an errand
- Find information about mental health resources and providers to share
- Touch base with others and create a support team
- Talk to someone who can guide you
Don't Go It Alone
Remember that no one expects you to solve all of your friend's problems. Just because you are a trusted friend does not mean you are a therapist or that you (or your friend) should go it alone.
There is help out there! Reach out to others who can offer support, such as other friends and family; school counselors, coaches, or teachers; faith-based or community leaders. Check out Mental Health Info, Find Support, or We’re Here to Help below.
You are making a difference just by being there as a friend.