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Wellness > Mental Health

How To Offer Support To A Friend Struggling With Their Mental Health — Without Overstepping A Boundary

Sometimes, all you can do is be there for a friend, especially if they’re struggling with their mental health. Seeing your friend struggle mentally can be one of the most challenging things in a friendship: How do you help them without saying the wrong things? How often should you call? What can you do that will actually help them? Those are all valid questions that, honestly, most of us have probably faced at one point in our lives in a friendship — I know I have, and it can be challenging to navigate how to help. 

Everyone copes with mental struggles differently, which is what makes it so hard to know how to help each friend individually. But knowing that person’s personality on a deeper level and being able to cater to them personally is what can help you decide how to help them. Whether it’s going out for drinks and pizza or listening to your friend vent on the phone for a couple of hours, there is always something you can do as a friend to offer support, without crossing a boundary.

Write them a card expressing your love and gratitude for them.

Whenever I know my friend is going through a hard time I always opt to write a heartfelt card expressing how much they mean to me. A support system is what your friend needs during this time, and being gentle, and offering love from a distance, is a really important step of the process. So, writing a card for them to read on their own time ( and when they need it) is a perfect way to show your love, and not be too much in their face. It gives them the support they are craving while allowing them to not have to answer or talk about it more than they are already thinking about it. 

Send them a treat or a small gift.

There are tons of treats and gifts you can send to a friend via Doordash or any other delivery service, and this is a really easy way to show a friend you are thinking of them: it allows them to not have to talk about their mental health and feel overwhelmed, but it gives them the support they need. What you send doesn’t have to be grand, it could be just one cookie — it’s the thought that counts! You could also go for a gift like some face masks, flowers, or a candle, it’s really up to you depending on what your friend loves or find comfort in.

Be the listener they need.

Like I said before, being gentle is really important when your friend is struggling, and when they are ready to talk, listening can heal them in ways they didn’t even it could. When you allow your friend to talk things out, it gives them a safe space to talk about their struggles in a way that’s comfortable for them. I can’t always relate to what my friends are going through, but I know when I offer a shoulder to cry on or simply just listen, they feel the support and comfort through that small gesture. To open the door,  call or text your friend and ask how they are doing, and let them lead the conversation. This way, you aren’t asking too many questions that might overwhelm them: being there to listen and comfort is sometimes exactly what the doctor ordered.

Go on a friend date.

Doing things with a friend struggling with their mental health is sometimes the best medicine. Going out to your favorite happy hour, to a museum, to get your nails done, or really just doing anything you both enjoy will always do the trick! It’s a great way to help your friend feel happy in another aspect of their life and offer support without overstepping any boundaries: You don’t even have to talk about anything, but rather offer a fun and happy day for them to make them feel better at the moment. Distracting your friend by having a fun, genuine plan is always a good idea. 

It’s hard to know how to help a friend when they don’t even know how to help themself, but simply being there for them and reminding them how important they are is the best thing you can do. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it more than you’ll ever know! 

Katriel Orlean was previously an intern for the National Writing Program at Her Campus as well as the Instagram and Facebook editor at her Her Campus's Ohio State University chapter. She created graphics for her chapter's Instagram and Facebook, posted new articles on both social medias, and helps to recruit members through Instagram. During her time as a writer for the NWP, she wrote evergreen articles as well as articles that are news based. She wrote about five to six articles per month for this program. Beyond Her Campus, Katriel was an intern for Spoon University where she wrote 8-10 articles per month. These articles were sometimes evergreen and mostly they are based on timely news in the food world. She is a recent graduate from The Ohio State University, with a degree in Communications Analysis & Engagement. In her free time, Katriel loves to travel, workout, play tennis and pickle ball, and hang out with family and friends. She is a buckeye through and through and loves to exude all of her school spirit at the Ohio State football games. She loves to write, especially for HC!