We’ve all done it. We’ve all said we’re fine when we’re not. With approximately 1 in 4 people experiencing mental health issues, if a friend tells you they’re fine, chances are they won’t be. 

If you really want to know how your friend is, ask them again. Asking a second time could mean you’re given a different answer. Sometimes asking again in a friendly way can encourage a friend to open up. 

If you’re struggling with your mental health, chances are you have at least one friend who’s willing to help. 

We offer mental health support for Selby and the surrounding areas. Why not give us a call? Our phone line is open from 7 pm – 10 pm, 365 days of the year.

Call us on (01757) 642 399. If you call before our phone lines are open and we cannot answer you will be diverted to an NHS Helpline.

If a friend opens up to you about their mental health struggles, don’t worry. You don’t need to be an expert on mental health. Follow these five steps to help your friend: 

1. Take What They’re saying Seriously 

Some people find it hard to talk about how they’re feeling, especially men. It can be even harder for a friend to open up to you if they have known you for a long time. This is why it’s important that you take it seriously. Do not treat what they’re saying as a joke, even if you mean well. Remember your friend’s feelings are very real to them. 

2. Listen to Them and Reflect 

You don’t need to have all of the answers or to know exactly what to say. Sometimes just listening can make a world of difference. Show your friend that you’re listening to them. This is easy to do by saying things like “that sounds quite hard” or “it can’t be easy for you”.

Thank your friend for being honest with you. This will show them that you appreciate them opening up to you. It will also encourage them to open up to you the next time they are finding things difficult. 

3. Ask Them Questions 

Many people worry that they might think they’re being nosy when they ask questions about someone’s mental health. However, it is much better to ask some questions than not at all. Asking questions can help your friend to talk. It can help them to get their worries off their chest. When you ask questions, you’re keeping the conversation going. This shows that you care. 

You might want to ask some of the following questions:

  • What thoughts are you having?
  • What does it feel like?
  • How can I help you?

4. Don’t Try to Fix Them 

It’s only natural that you will want your friend to feel better. However, expecting them to feel better right away will not help. 

It is not your job to make their difficulties disappear. In fact, it can be more helpful to your friend if you listen, ask questions, and spend some time with them. Being there for your friend when they need you can help more than you know. 

5. Build on Your Knowledge 

You could find it useful to learn about what your friend is going through. If, for example, they have been feeling down, you could read about depression. If they are feeling anxious, you could read up on anxiety. The more you learn about what they’re going through, the more familiar you’ll be with the type of support that’s available. Knowing what support is available can help your friend to ask for help. 

It can be hard for a friend to open up about how they’re feeling. Be patient. It could take time for them to talk, but if you ask them twice, they’ll know you care. 

Stay in contact with your friend, keep doing the things you both enjoy. Support your friend, even if their struggles aren’t related to mental health. Knowing that you’re there and that you care can make a world of difference. 

We offer mental health support for Selby and the surrounding areas. Why not give us a call? Our phone line is open from 7 pm – 10 pm, 365 days of the year.

Call us on (01757) 642 399. If you call before our phone lines are open and we cannot answer you will be diverted to an NHS Helpline.

Interested in helping those who are struggling with their mental health? We offer Mental Health First Aid training in Selby. Contact us at info@communitea.org.uk