Life Skills 101: How To Support a Friend

May 11, 2023
This story took place in United States

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When a friend is struggling, it can be difficult to know the best way to support them. You might really want to help, but feel uncertain as to what to say or do. While everyone’s situation is different, here are five ways you can always support a friend in need:

1) Be there 

One of the best things you can do for a friend going through something is to be there for them. Listen to them if they want to talk, and sit with them if they don’t. Sometimes just knowing someone is there and checking in frequently is the best way you can reassure someone that they aren’t alone. 

To learn how you can start and continue the conversation with a friend who’s struggling with their mental health while still protecting your own boundaries, check out the Be There Certificate, a free, self-paced online mental health course, available in English, French, and Spanish, that teaches people how to recognize when someone might be struggling, understand their role in supporting that person, and learn how to connect them to the help they need and deserve.

2) Validate their feelings + ask what they need

Listen to what your friend is saying with an open mind, acknowledge what their emotions are and the source of those emotions, and reflect their feelings back to them. Remember, validating someone’s emotions doesn’t mean you necessarily agree with them – it means acknowledging and accepting a person’s experiences and feelings as valid. Ensuring your friend feels heard and understood can help them feel better.

Unless they ask for it, avoid giving your friend advice, and instead ask what they need or offer to do something kind for them to help their situation.

3) Let them know you’re thinking of them

If your friend doesn’t feel like talking and wants to be alone, that’s OK – you can still let them know you’re keeping them in your thoughts by sending memes, TikToks, funny jokes, cute animal photos, songs, or pictures of some of your favorite times together. Receiving a “Just thinking of you!” text can significantly brighten someone’s day and remind them they’re loved. 

Here are three ways you can let a friend know you’re thinking of them:

4) Share resources that offer them support

There’s always someone who wants to help. By sharing resources or offering to help your friend find them, you can help them know they’re not alone. 

Check out the various mental health resources – including support for body image, bullying, chronic illness, PTSD, anxiety, and more – on our resource page here. You can also send your friend a free Find Your Anchor box, a mental health resource offering support, inspiration, and hope.

5) Talk to an adult

If you’re worried about your friend, tell an adult you trust. Whether that be a parent or teacher, a counselor or a therapist, or even a crisis number like Crisis Text Line, there are adults in your life who want to help you and the people you care about.

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