Hey girl, let's talk. We help our friends out all the time, deciding on an outfit for that party at the weekend, giving them guy advice, or paying for their takeaway when they’re skint at the end of the night. But what happens if they really need help? With World Mental Health Day around the corner, it’s a chance to reach out to anyone you think really needs it. Even if it’s offering to listen to them vent for 10 minutes or guiding someone onto the right path, it’s extremely important we all make sure our mates really are okay. Here’s some quick tips and solutions you can use to keep the positive vibes going in your group.
The warning signs can vary from tiny changes to very apparent behaviour. Seeing these signs in someone you’re close to may mean they’re going through some struggles, so you could offer your support to them – coz who wouldn’t wanna help their mates?!
A typical warning sign is feeling withdrawn, isolated or quieter than usual. If you notice your friend’s stopped replying as much on the group chat or doesn’t seem talkative when you all meet up, their mind could be elsewhere and thinking about other things.
Feeling guilty or worthless could also be a sign. If your friend is constantly kicking themselves and apologising unnecessarily, this could mean they’re thinking of themselves negatively and feeling like they’re an inconvenience.
If the person isn’t sleeping well, they may be distracted with something that’s literally keeping them up at night. They may be lacking severely in energy and could be really run down.
Significant weight and appetite changes can mean something is wrong too. The person may not feel like eating or taking care of themselves or their body.
Substance abuse, drinking more than usual on nights out and acting out the ordinary. All these factors may signify a deeper problem which they’re masking by getting too drunk and trying to forget reality.
It can be difficult at first to know how to approach someone when asking them what’s on their mind. It’s important for you to know that you don’t need any special training or anything like that and the person you’re talking to won’t expect you to have it! Offering them a simple gesture that you’re there for them could be everything they need.
Asking them how they’re feeling and what’s going on with them is an easy way to start. If it’s someone closer to you, you could say you’ve noticed some small changes in their lifestyle or personality that’s concerning you a little and you want to help.
Offering to just sit and listen to someone vent can make a huge difference to their day, knowing they’ve gotten whatever they’ve been thinking about off their chest. If they are finding it difficult to open up, give them space and tell them you’re there when they’re ready. It is very important to make sure you listen to everything thoroughly, be patient with everything they’re saying and try not to interrupt. Be open and understanding of everything they’re saying, you don’t know how long they may have been holding this in for.
After this, you can offer reassurance to them. Tell them they’re not alone in this and there are a lot of ways this can be resolved. Comforting them and being with them even if it’s in silence means you’re offering your full support and you want to help them, if it means doing nothing together – do it.
If the person doesn’t want to open up straight away, no worries! Let them know that you’re there for them when they are ready. Make sure you keep an eye on them without seeming like you’re waiting around for them to talk to you. Have normal conversations with them and include them in what you’re doing – this could be a really positive distraction for them.
In terms of solutions, you can do a number of things. Seeking professional help can be so daunting at first, so try some things with them yourself before offering that. You could first try to give them some tips they can do for themselves like eating healthy, getting some fresh air/exercise every day and doing things they enjoy regularly (like reading, shopping, watching their favourite film). Small things like this can really boost someone’s mood.
Stay in touch with them regularly. Dropping them a text in the morning, organising a Facetime after work or giving them a call when you’re walking home all show that you’re thinking about them, you’re there for them and you’re genuinely interested in hearing about their day. Meet up with them and make them feel included and wanted. Just dropping them a text saying “Coffee? x x” can make such a huge difference to someone’s day. Feeling isolated and unwanted is the worst feeling, so changing that for someone may give them a push to trust you and open up to you more.
Offer them solutions for things they can do for themselves when you’re not there. There really is an app for everything these days, including loads within the mental health and wellbeing category. Depending on what they want to change/achieve, there will be an app for that! Find some you think could help them and send them over as some suggestions. Propose that they keep a diary for themselves to write in whatever they’re thinking. Maintaining a diary can be a good way of going over your feelings, analysing them and just getting them out in the open. The diary could even just contain small fun things like lists, things to achieve that day, what songs they should listen to or a bucket list.
If you feel your friend needs more serious help, offer them some options they should consider. Try researching some local support groups they could go to – even offer to go with them if it’s okay! Help them online by going to the NHS website and finding the appropriate numbers to call depending on their situation. The world wide web has a whole host of helpful info you can use for yourself and others around you.
Whatever the seriousness, there’s always a solution. Remember to be kind and caring to everyone. You never know what someone’s going through behind closed doors, so look after each other!!