Friends and family members are often the first to notice when an individual is having trouble coping. Academic performance, personal relationships, and daily behavior can all be negatively impacted by emotional difficulties. The following signs suggest the need for a mental evaluation:
It may be helpful to talk with your friend about some of the changes that you have seen and encourage him or her to seek help in addressing issues that may be causing these changes.
Friends and loved ones can make a big difference. According to MentalHealth.gov, they can be important influences to help someone get the treatment and services they need by:
We often we get caught up in the "right/wrong" thing to say to a loved one struggling with mental health. Often, it is helpful just to say, "I'm not sure of the right or wrong thing to say right now, but I am sure that I care about you, want to understand what you are going through, and will support you in whatever way is most helpful to you." And then listen. Allow them to see you as a safe and reliable person to talk to and receive encouragement from. Ask them "how might I help you?" A word of caution, however: you are their friend, not their therapist. The healthiest thing you can do for your friend and for yourself is to ensure that they are getting appropriate treatment from a professional. Do not take that role upon yourself.
Listening well involves allowing the struggling individual to talk about their thoughts, feelings, and struggles, forgoing judgment or a "let's fix this" attitude. Ask questions, attempt to understand the illness, but know when to set boundaries. It is important that you continue your role as a friend, and not a therapist. Listening well also involves recognizing issues that need to be addressed professionally and encouraging the individual to get assistance.
When someone is struggling with a mental illness, it is not helpful to say things such as "you don't seem depressed" or "what do you have to be depressed about?" These comments devalue what the individual is going through and cause unnecessary shame regarding their illness. Another thing to avoid saying is "all you have to do is"¦"--every person's experience is different and if they knew "all they had to do" to relieve their symptoms, they would probably have done it by now. PsychCentral developed the "10 Worst Things to Say to Someone Struggling with a Mental Illness." It may be helpful to review this list to ensure that your words are helpful and supportive.
Take the disclosure very seriously. Let the person know that you are not an expert, but you do know that he or she needs to consult with one. Encourage him or her to call a suicide hotline or visit an emergency room. If they refuse, call a local mental health agency for advice. If you are concerned that the person is not safe at this time, contact the police--they will help you get assistance for your friend.
Yes. Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult, but if you're unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask if they are thinking about taking their life. You can't make a person suicidal by showing that you care. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can provide relief from loneliness and pent-up negative feelings, and may prevent a suicide attempt. Here are a few phrases you can use to start a conversation about suicide:
Talk with them about your concerns in a caring and direct manner, sharing the specific behaviors or signs that you see while you provide assurance of your support. If they are unaware of treatment options, assist them in finding the best option for them. Let them know that you will be as involved as they would like you to be, assure your loved one that everyone struggles from time to time and that we all need each other, and remind them that asking for help demonstrates strength and courage.
Calling your friend's parent may be an appropriate response in some situations, but not necessarily in every situation. Here are a few other ways to assist your struggling roommate:
If there is a serious concern about their safety or the safety of others, contact a family member or the police (911) immediately.
When someone has depression, they feel that everything is hopeless and that there is no one who will understand or be able to help them. Depression is often accompanied with a series of negative thoughts that spiral out of control, and this can affect the person's logical thinking. Additionally, there is often a stigma attached to having a mental health issue that often discourages people from seeking the help that they need.
It is often difficult to know what to say in the face of a loved one's loss. While you can't take away the pain, you can provide comfort and support during this time of grief. The most important thing that you can do for a grieving person is to simply be there; your support and caring presence will help him or her cope with the pain and begin to heal. Let them know you care about them and feel sorry for their loss, being careful not to talk too much.
If someone is having a panic attack, it can feel scary. However, you can help that person through the attack. WebMD offers the following advice: