Whether your friend has recently opened up about their mental health problems or you’ve noticed that their behavior has changed, it can be hard to know how to support them.

They may feel a baseline level of guilt for burdening you, but it’s important to remember that they are human and deserve your love and support.

Don’t Take It Personal

According to GS Movement, when someone you care about experiences mental health issues, it can be hard to know what to do. Often, your best response is to simply let them be. That doesn’t mean that you don’t want to support them, but it does mean that you need to be aware of how your actions and words affect your loved one.

Everyone experiences their mental health struggles and illnesses differently. While it may be tempting to talk about how you dealt with a similar situation or to bring up an acquaintance who used a specific strategy, treatment, or therapy to help them, this is not the right way to go about things.

Your friend may be hesitant about seeking professional help for their mental health; understandably, you want to encourage them to do so. Reassure them that seeking professional service does not make them weak or weaker and that you will be there for them if they need support.

Getting a mental health diagnosis can be confusing, and it is easy for people to blame themselves or blame the illness itself. This can lead to increased distress and frustration as they search for the cause. Instead, remember that mental health challenges are complex and need time and support to improve.

It can be challenging for a person with mental health issues to get up and out of bed every morning, especially when experiencing severe depression or anxiety. So it can be helpful to do small tasks for them, like washing the dishes or folding laundry, as well as helping them with grocery and drugstore runs.

As you support your friends, remind them of their accomplishments and successes. This can be as simple as thanking them for getting out of bed in the morning or congratulating them for going to work.

You can also do small things to make them feel cared for, like offering grocery shopping or taking them out for dinner. Just remember to be sensitive when doing these little things so they don’t make them feel less loved or appreciated.

Don’t Pressure Your Friend

Having a friend with mental health issues can be hard on everyone involved, but it is essential not to pressure your friend. By educating yourself on mental health topics, listening without judgment, respecting their privacy, and encouraging professional help, you can provide the support your friend needs meaningfully.

When dealing with a mental illness, they are experiencing an overwhelming emotional and physical struggle that can cause them to feel depressed, hopeless, or irritable. These feelings can be difficult to understand, making it challenging for them to feel comfortable sharing their emotions with you.

One of the most common ways people are made to feel like they need to share their feelings is through subtle comments and questions that seem harmless but can be interpreted as a direct request to open up about something they are not ready to talk about. For example, asking if they have ever thought about suicide can lead to anxiety and fear, particularly if your friend is already struggling with their mental health.

This can also make people feel embarrassed about their symptoms or unsure what to say. For these reasons, it is best to ask them directly if they want to discuss anything and let them know that you are there to listen.

Suppose your friend is willing to talk about their symptoms. In that case, you can offer support in various ways, including helping them with practical tasks around the house, like cooking or cleaning and providing emotional support. These acts of kindness can go a long way in building trust and friendships between you.

You can also encourage your friend to seek professional help if they are experiencing feelings of isolation or overwhelming stress. This can be a crucial step in the recovery process and a life-changing experience for them.

For example, if they are suffering from depression, you can suggest taking a walk in nature or attending an art class together, which is a helpful way to lift the mood.

Don’t Make It About You

One in five people has experienced a mental health issue at some point, and it’s not uncommon for friends to support someone with emotional problems. But when someone is struggling with their mental health, knowing what to say or do can be a challenge.

When supporting a friend, it’s important not to make it about you. Instead, show your friend how much you care and want to help them.

While it may be hard, listening is the best thing you can do for your friend. This is crucial to helping your friend deal with their mental health problem.

It’s also important not to jump in too quickly with your diagnosis or solutions because that can be confusing. It often takes someone with a mental illness time to come to terms with their condition.

If you are worried about your friend and think they might be going through something serious, it’s a good idea to talk to their doctor. It isn’t your job to be their psychiatrist or counselor, but it is your responsibility to let them know you’re there for them and to encourage them to seek treatment.

You might be tempted to try and relate their emotional challenges to your own, such as saying that you have had panic attacks or are afraid of an upcoming expense. But this approach can be misguided and will only cause more pain to your friend.

In addition, it can be tempting to tell your friend they’re wrong and you are right. This can lead them to believe that their problems aren’t valid or that they don’t have a right to feel like they do.

This is a common reaction to people with mental health issues, but it’s not a reason to give up. In fact, research shows that most people who get help after their friends and family speak up are thankful for the support they have.

If you’re unsure how to support a friend with mental health issues, many resources are available. These include our page on making yourself heard, with tips for talking to your friend and finding help.

Don’t Judge

Mental health issues are a standard part of life but can be hard to discuss. If you have a friend with mental health problems, it’s important not to judge them or make comments that might be unhelpful.

One of the most damaging judgments is to tell your friend that their mental health problem is “in their head.” This comment trivializes the emotional impact of their illness and ignores the physical symptoms, such as tiredness, a churning gut, or muscle pains.

This attitude can exacerbate your friend’s guilt and lead them to avoid seeking treatment. And it can also put them at risk of harming themselves or others.

The Bible states that we must not judge a person by their appearance. We must instead judge them by their character, values, and actions.

People often think that judging someone is a holier-than-thou thing and that they must be spiritual to have the right to do so. However, this line of thought is based on an inaccurate understanding of the Bible.

In 1 John, Jesus instructs us not to judge people on their looks or how they dress. He also says that we should consider a person by their good.

But when we hear that some people have to hide their mental illness because of the stigma and shame associated with it, it can be challenging to know how to support them. We can do our part to reduce the stigma by sharing our own experiences of mental health and helping others.

Getting trained in Mental Health First Aid can help you do just that. It will give you the tools to understand mental health issues and listen nonjudgmentally.

It will also teach you how to recognize a situation needing immediate intervention. You’ll learn how to get your friends the help they need.

If you want to learn more about being a supportive friend, you can join a peer support group. These groups can be found at many mental health organizations and offer a chance to connect with others in similar situations.