helping a friend who has mental health struggles
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It's important to be there for our friends when they need some extra TLC. Even the smallest act can make a difference on your friend's mental health so take some time out of your day to do some of these small acts that could go a long way.

1. Check in.

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Checking in with a friend who may be struggling is the most important thing you can do. It takes one second to reach out to text or call someone, and it can really help them just knowing that you're there. Ask questions about how things are going so they can see how much you care. Just be sure to only be encouraging and supportive. Be careful saying anything you think might bring them down. Make it clear to them that they can reach out to you at any time. There are other little ways to check in too. It doesn't just have to be asking them how they are. Send them a funny tweet or something you saw that reminds you of them. This may seem like nothing but to someone going through something, it can mean a lot more than one would think.

2. Make plans.

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Take them to their favorite place, or out to see a funny movie. If they don't want to leave their house, have a sleepover with ice cream and Netflix. Isolation will only make things worse for them, so go the extra mile reaching out to them to do something, because they might feel too down to reach out to you. Going out or having friends around can be great for getting their mind away from how they're feeling, or just simply making them feel happier. Make sure you're doing something that they want to do an not anything that may make them anxious or uncomfortable.

3. Update them on you.

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Tell them about anything that's going on in your life. Whether it's something small like a class project you're stressed about or something big like a break up, let them know. This is another way to keep up conversation with them more, and it shows them that you feel comfortable opening up to them. For most people it takes them a while to feel okay opening up to a friend about their struggles, so telling them things from your life may let them feel that it's ok to open up to you about theirs.

4. Defend them.

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If other people you're friends with are making your friend who is struggling feel worse, defend them. If they're calling him or her a loser for not wanting to go to a party, or saying that they're no fun anymore, speak up for them. They probably won't want to explain their mental health to these people, so take these friends to the side and explain it for your friend. Tell them that you never know what someone is going through and they should ease up on your friend. They need someone to advocate for them, because most of the time they won't want to do it for themselves.

5. Make them feel validated.

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Your friend may feel completely down about something that seems like nothing to you. Understand that everyone handles situations differently, and something that may seem small to you, like getting a C on a test, may be a full on panic attack for someone else. So if your friend comes to you struggling with something, no matter how big the issue, make them feel validated, and help them through the problem. Don't just say "Why do you care so much?' or "That's no big deal,". Try to understand why something small can be so big for them, and offer them your full support.

6. Help them get help.

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Being a good friend is helpful, but most of the time isn't enough. Encourage them to talk to their parents or their doctor about seeking professional help. Look up therapists in the area for them, and offer to take them to the appointment. Don't push them to hard, but help them to make little steps in getting the help they need. A little push in the right direction can go a long way.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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