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Mental Health

How to be a Supportive Friend to Someone Who Is Struggling

It is very hard to see someone you love struggle. Whether this is due to a mental health illness or a personal  tragedy, it can be difficult to navigate being a supportive friend. However, being there for someone in need can majorly help them work through their struggles and have a tremendous impact on their healing. 

Take care of yourself first

You must first take care of yourself before trying to help others. If your mental state is not stable and healthy, it will be very hard to be a stable support system for someone else. Not only will you undergo more stress by trying to take on a supportive role, but you will not benefit a struggling friend by coming from an unstable, unhappy place. Take care of your mind and wellbeing before even attempting to support someone else. 

Listen

Oftentimes, those who are struggling just need someone to listen. No questions, no comments, just someone to listen to their words and emotions. Being a good listener entails being fully engaged in what the other person is saying and validating their emotions. Simply listening to a friend who is struggling can make a major difference. 

Let them come to you

Although it is easy and natural to be worried about a struggling friend and constantly ask how they are, sometimes you just have to let them come to you. Oftentimes, someone who is struggling does not want to always be asked how they or how they are feeling. Let them come to you when they need support. 

Give them space to heal

On the same note, you cannot overstep your support by being too involved. Although being a good friend and listener certainly helps, those who are struggling need to figure out how to heal on their own without completely relying on another. For your wellbeing and their best interest, give them space to heal on their own and find inner peace and independence. 

  Pass along your tips/ advice, but don’t overstep your opinions 

Everyone handles their struggles differently. Although it definitely does help to pass along useful advice and tips on how to handle pain and healing, try not to overstep with your own opinions and what works for you because that doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for someone else. Additionally, constantly being told the “right” way to heal or a “simple” way to work through a personal struggle can often be more harmful than helpful. Certainly pass along your tips and advice, but try not to reiterate yourself too much as this will help your friend discover what works best for them within their healing process. 

Everyone has different needs and wants, especially during hard times. Being a supportive friend to someone who is struggling can definitely make a huge difference in that person’s life. Remember, however,  that your mental health must first be addressed before helping others to truly be able to pass along your best advice, understand their needs, and allow you to act as a stable support system for someone who truly needs it. 

Cristina Ribera

Notre Dame '21

My name is Cristina Ribera and I am a rising junior at Notre Dame. I am originally from San Francisco, but on campus I live in Welsh Family Hall. I am majoring in American Studies and double minoring in Data Science and Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Writing is a passion of mine, so I am very excited to be writing for Her Campus. I have a blog in which I write about mental health, particularly in college, and I have written for Scholastic Magazine about mental health on campus, among other topics. I can’t wait to delve into more exciting topics and share them with such an incredible community!
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