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Oftentimes, I find myself in a position where my friends might need more from me than I know how to provide, so I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned over the years. Additionally, I ended up asking on my Snapchat story, “What are some things you think could help if your friend ever needs your emotional support?” Many different people responded with perhaps things they wish they had done for their friends or their friends had done for them. I thought the answers were very interesting and each gave a glimpse of the things we yearn to receive from others. 

As a warning, I’m not claiming to be a mental health expert, I’m far from it. If you have a friend who is struggling with their mental health, I suggest they seek professional help. But if you are ever in a position where you have to respond in the moment, it’s important to know how to make your friend feel comforted. 

  • Ask what they might need from you. Do they need you to give advice? Or do they need you to simply listen and let them talk through things? 

    • This has been very helpful in learning how to serve my friends best according to the situation they’re in. Sometimes they just need someone to let them rant to and not necessarily someone who will overwhelm them with suggestions of what they should be doing. 

    • “I think just listening and not giving advice at first. I personally like to vent and let it all out.”

  • Be patient and understanding. It’s frustrating seeing your friends get hurt by the situations they’re in, but remember that they have free reign over their own hearts and bodies. We cannot dictate their lives for them. It is theirs to make mistakes and learn from them. No matter how many times they fall and have to get back up. All you have to do is lend a helping hand. 

    • Expect your friends to ignore your advice the first time, or the second, or the fifteenth… it’s okay!! They are under no obligation to do what they are told and are no less worthy of your love and friendship. (Unless you have gotten emotionally invested in the situation and it is causing you harm. If you are able to view their situation objectively, be there for them as best you can).

    • “Just someone who will listen and then give an honest opinion, whether or not it’s what I want to hear and not judge me depending on whether or not I decide to listen to their advice.”

  • If your friend is feeling too anxious, maybe try asking questions about happy things going on in their lives. Try getting their mind away from what is causing stress, and distract them in a positive and comforting way. Get them to focus on their surroundings instead of their thoughts; get their mentality back to the present moment. 

  • Never belittle your friends! Whatever is causing them pain is just as valid as anyone else’s reason. Only compare yourself or others if it’s to suggest solutions that might help them. Never make them feel like their situation shouldn’t be cared about. Their feelings are valid!

  • Love them how they want to be loved not how you want to be loved!!!!

    • Understand what actions they would appreciate most, not how you think they should. This moment of friendship is meant to be selfless. 

    • “Using their love language to show them you’re there for them.”

  • Depending on the situation, your friend might need a reminder that they’re in a safe space, no harm will come to them, the moment of pain and fear is over, and they have only safety and happiness to look forward to. 

  • Remind them how beautiful, and worthy they are to be on this Earth. Sometimes we all just need a little reminder of how special we are. 

  • Some other comments/suggestions:

    • “Love and exercise”

    • “Visit them in person”

    • “A hug or food”

    • “Any kind of aromatherapy and soft music while journaling your feelings or coloring and talking about it!”

    • “Being able to just listen and not necessarily give an opinion, doing things for them that you know cheer them up, most of all just being there when they need you a little extra”

    • “Dropping off food in case they don’t feel up to cooking, asking what they need, writing an encouraging card, depends on what that person’s love language is and what they value”

Most importantly!!! Check on your friends! The journey doesn’t end after a phone call, ask them every once in a while how they’re doing and see if they’ve been doing okay. Let them know you’re still there to support them!

You never know what your friends could be going through. Maybe they seem distant, and it could be worth asking if they’ve been feeling okay recently. It is always okay to check on your friends mental health or your own. 

 

Some hotlines if you or anyone else ever needs them:

Dating abuse and domestic violence:1-866-331-9474

  • loveisrespect focuses on young adult relationships and hopes to end dating abuse. loveisrespect offers 24/7 help.

National suicide prevention line: 1-866-331-9474

The Trevor project: 866-488-7386

  • The Trevor Project offers support to the LGBTQ young adult community. Both of the hotlines provided offer 24/7 help.

National eating disorder association: 1-800-931-2237

  • NEDA offers help to a variety of eating disorders and hopes to “envision a world without eating disorders.” NEDA is available Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (EST).

General crisis text line: Text SUPPORT to 741-741

  • The Crisis Text Line extends to everyone. Their goal “…is helping people move from a hot moment to a cool calm, guiding you to create a plan to stay safe and healthy. YOU = our priority.” 24/7 help is available.

National alliance on mental illness: 1-800-950-6264

  • NAMI provides treatment options and programs. They wish to “raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need.” The NAMI hotline is available every Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Sexual assault hotline – rape, abuse, incest national network: 1-800-656-4673

  • RAINN is the “nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.”  Their goal is to provide options and programs to victims, in addition to finding ways of preventing sexual violence. RAINN offers 24/7 help.

Veterans crisis line- veterans association: 1-800-273-8255

  • The VA’s focus is to help veterans of all ages adjust to the transition of coming back, in addition to helping with any mental health issues or relationships. The VA offers 24/7 help. 

 

My name is Sophia Gutierrez, I am a sophomore IRG transfer student. I enjoy reading, painting, and listening to music!
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