It’s never easy to watch someone you love struggle with their mental health. As a friend, you want to jump in and help them in any way you can, but it’s not always easy or possible to improve someone’s mental health. While fixing the problem isn’t usually an option, you can support them and let them know you care for their well being.
There’s a lot of information out there about what not to say to those struggling in their mental health, but what’s just as important is collecting the positive language to help let your friend know that they are cared for. Saying the right thing is as important as avoiding the wrong thing.
If a friend comes to you when they are struggling in their mental health, it’s because they trust you and are looking to you for support in some capacity. Above all else, it’s important to listen, offer your presence and allow them the space to speak their mind.
What your friend needs is someone who is willing to be there for them and has their best interests at heart. The fact that you are taking the time to learn about how best to support them shows that even if you’re not perfectly equipped yet, you’re headed in the right direction. So if you feel stuck, here are six supportive things you can say to your friend when they’re struggling.
1. Even if I Don’t Understand Exactly How You Feel, You’re Not Alone
If you do have personal insight into the condition or experience your friend is going though, you can offer that. But chances are your experiences will be a little different from each other, and that’s okay. Your friend isn’t asking you to read their mind or become an expert overnight.
Reminding them that they have people around who care is a great soothing technique to help your friend feel safe and supported. Even if their support system doesn’t know exactly what their struggle is like, they are still around to offer help however they can.
If your friend feels the need to speak with someone who understands their experience more fully, offering to help take steps to find support groups or mental health professionals can show that you care.
2. How Have You Been Coping Today?
Explaining the full situation can be overwhelming at times, especially when someone has lower energy levels due to struggling with mental health. Sometimes, just asking about the situation of the day can tell you all you need, and let your friend focus on smaller things rather than dwelling on the responsibility of fleshing out their whole situation at once. Asking about their coping strategies can be a great way to understand where they are in their journey that day.
3. Do You Want to Do Something Together?
Offering to do an activity to take your friend’s mind off their situation is a great way to show them support. If you know an activity that they enjoy doing, suggesting something specific that they love can alleviate the pressures of choosing something.
Activities that are low-pressure and quiet tend to work well for this, as they are distracting but not overwhelming. Watching a movie, making food or doing a small task or project are perfect ideas.
You know your friend best, so if they are the kind of person who likes to be given options, leave it open ended. If getting out and socializing usually helps them, offer that too. Remember what they like and use it however you see fit.
4. I’m Here for You
Sometimes just reminding your friend that they have support in you can do a world of good. Often, mental health struggles can make someone feel alone, and hearing a persistent reminder that they have a friend who isn’t going anywhere can bring a bit more comfort to someone’s day.
5. Do You Need Anything?
One of the best ways that you can show support to a friend who is struggling is offering to help them get the things they need. Self-care can sometimes be difficult for those dealing with mental health complications, which means your friend might need help doing some little things or could benefit a lot from something small you could bring them.
Even suggesting more specific things, like offering to bring them food or asking if they need help cleaning their room could make their day much easier.
6. This is Not Your Fault
One of the hardest parts of struggling with mental health is feeling like a burden. If your friend expresses in any way that they feel like a burden or they feel guilty for their mental health, take the time to assure them that you love them and that you are there for them because you want to be.
Reminding your friend that they never need to feel guilty for their mental health can help their self-esteem and can make them feel more comfortable asking for the things they need in the future.
It’s never easy to watch a friend you love go through a hard time, especially when it’s not an easy fix. But being the kind of person who shows support and compassion when they need it most is one of the best things you can do. Your friend has put their trust in you by coming to you for help, and with the right words you can help them feel a little more loved, supported and maybe even optimistic.
Even when it’s hard, remember that you are trying your best to be the kind of person they need in a tough time, because that’s what friendship is all about.