How to help a friend
At any given time, one in four young Australians is experiencing a mental health condition, like depression or anxiety. Depression and anxiety are common, but serious conditions, which affect how people feel, think and carry out their routine daily tasks. With the right treatment, most people recover from depression and anxiety, and support from friends can play an important role in this recovery.
Everyone's experience of depression or anxiety is unique, but there are four key things that you can do to help a friend who is struggling; look, listen, talk and seek help together. By following these four simple steps, you can help your friend see that he or she isn't alone and that things can get better.
Looking out for your friends is about taking note when they don't seem to be acting like themselves. Sometimes, it can be hard to know if a friend is going through a rough patch or if there is something more serious going on, like anxiety or depression. Noticing changes in your friends, like they're not going out as much or they're always tired or feeling down, is a good reason to check in to see if they're OK.
Listening is the next key step. Checking in with friends is not about offering advice or knowing all the answers. Just listen and try to understand how they feel.
Talking gives you a way to let your friends know you are there for them. If you are concerned about saying the wrong thing or making the situation worse, try to keep it simple. Let them know what you have noticed and that you want to help. beyondblue's Check In App is a great tool to help you decide what to say, where and when. It also offers links to other information about what to do next, particularly if things don't go well. The Check In App is available to download for free from Google Playand the Apple App Store.
Seeking help together means encouraging your friends to seek further support. They may want to start talking with their family about how they feel or talk with a doctor or health professional. You could help them find and arrange an appointment with a health professional, or even offer to go with them to their first appointment to help them feel more relaxed. Professional support can help your friends to sort through how they feel, why, and what they can do about it. It can help them to find a way to move forward, achieve their goals and feel better. Getting help is a sign of strength and determination to make things better.
beyondblue can offer you, and those around you, information and ideas about how to approach depression and anxiety; the options for treatment, what help is available, and how to support someone you care about. There is information online (www.youthbeyondblue.com) or you can contact the beyondblue Support Service by phone 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or online at www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support for web chat (3pm – midnight) or email responses within 24 hours.