Do you have friends or flatmates who suffer from mental health?
It can be difficult for you to deal with but for your friend, having someone supportive to talk to when they're feeling down can really help.
You might not know where to start if you haven't experienced something like this before but here are some things that will really help your friend when they need it most:
- Be the right amount of interested
It's great that you're interested in their mental health and want to know more about what is going on in their life BUT don't take it too far. Asking personal questions that are too invasive will just make them feel uncomfortable.
- Be positive and uplifting
No matter the mental health problem that someone deals with, they'll have good days and bad days. That is why it's important to encourage them and try not have negative conversations with them that could make them feel worse.
- Don't make them feel like a burden/inconvenience
Saying things like, 'you need to cheer up' or 'you're just bringing me down' are the worst things you could say to someone. Let them know they can talk to you when they really need to and that you genuinely want to listen instead of just being sat on your phone.
- Make them feel involved
If you plan on inviting some mates around to yours or know of an event going on that they'd be interested in - let them know! They might decline because they're having a bad day but at least they'll feel more involved.
- Give them space when they need it
If they do decline your invitation, don't give them grief about it and make them feel bad. Mental health doesn't choose when it's going to strike and could hit them when they least expect it and they might just need to be on their own.
- Let them know not judging them
The stigma around mental health might make people think they're going to be judged but you need to let them know you don't think they're weird or crazy just because they suffer from mental health.
- Tell them that everything will be fine
Something so simple as saying, 'you'll be ok' can go a long way. It will give your friend the encouragement they need because they might not have heard that for a while. Don't promise anything overnight, but let them know they will get there eventually.
- Help however YOU can
It's important that you help them as much as you can but know when is the right time to pass it onto someone else. This could mean telling their family, your accommodation team or recommending they contact student services to get the support they really need.
Having a supportive person to talk to can really help ease the symptoms so as long as you're there for your friend, you're doing more than you realise...