Being a friend watching from the outside I know how difficult it is to know exactly what to do when your friend hasn’t been themselves recently. You don’t know how to approach it but you also don’t want to ignore it.
Approach them as you usually would.
I know this sounds obvious but at time when you’re worried you can get ahead of yourself and ask 101 questions. Anyone with mental health issues knows the last thing they need is to feel as if they’re under police investigation. So just ask them the normal things, how they’re doing? How is work/studying/school? Have they got plans this week? Don’t pry don’t push just be normal. It’s a difficult thing telling people for the first time that you haven’t been yourself especially when you have no reason as to why it is so, just give it time.
Do something they know they would appreciate.
Buy them a coffee, spend some quality time with them, make them dinner whatever you know they will like. Don’t make a deal of it just do it as a nice gesture. With mental health issues whether it be anxiety, depression, schizophrenia etc. the person tends to believe the lie that they are unloved or no one likes them. Doing the small gestures that don’t seem that big a deal to you can change the world to them and remind them they have someone around them who is willing to stand by their side when they need it most. They are so much more likely to talk to you when they remember you really do care about them.
If they tell you
LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN!!! I cannot emphasise this enough. The person struggling has being trying to figure it out for years and I’m sorry to say but it is highly likely that you’re input isn’t going to fix it. I do not doubt they have already thought of everything you are about to tell them. Sit and listen, don’t try to interrupt or put words in their mouths, don’t give them a solution – let them talk. It’s probably taken a lot of courage to tell you so please give them your full attention (*n.b. cup of tea may be necessary at this point*).
Firstly, I guess I would say to reassure them that you’re there for it whenever they need and you’re so glad that they’ve told you. Ask them if there is any way you can help, if they’re finding it difficult to get up in the morning you could offer to make them breakfast so they know they have a reason to get up and they also have the joy of seeing their friend without the hassle of deciding what to eat. Do they need to get out for a while; should you plan to meet up and go for a walk. Do they want to do more exercise; you could do a gym class together. The list is endless so think outside the box.
Secondly, it may that they just needed to get it off their chest and that has helped already but on the other hand you may realise they need more help than you can offer. Don’t force them but suggest to them to visit their doctor (**side note – I know it isn’t always the best thing and I will write a blog tomorrow in more detail about that**). You can offer to go with them for moral support or ask them if they want you to book the appointment because sometimes even lifting the phone to talk to someone can fill you with absolute fear that makes you speechless. The whole idea is make the process for them getting help as easy as possible for them.
If you think someone is at risk of hurting themselves then YOU NEED TO TELL SOMEONE. I can tell you from experience it is not the nicest thing in the world to do and it’s terrifying (sorry for not sugar-coating). I know the fears that they’re going to hate you for a while and they probably will but remember this is someone you care too much about them to let it pass you by. You’re doing them a favour. Usually, it is best to phone a family member their close to who you know would be good help but if you have absolutely no idea who to get in contact with then here are a list of helplines that you can get in touch with 24/7:
Samaritans: 116 123
Childline: 0800 1111
PAPYRUS: 0800 068 41 41
We’re all in this weird thing called life together, look out for each other