Healthy Living

What To Do When Worried About A Friend’s Mental Health



Sometimes, it’s not us who experience the difficulty that makes life even harder than it natural is. Sometimes, it’s a friend. As friends, it’s hard to know where to intersect once you have identified a problem. If you haven’t identified a problem, but suspect one, then you might be at a loss about where to start, who to contact and how to proceed. In the world of polite social discourse, sometimes intruding too much can make matters even worse, and it may serve to only alienate you in the eyes of your friend.


Here’s how to identify if something is wrong:


The Symptoms?


The symptoms of struggling are usually quite easy to identify. They are, but are not limited to:




If you’ve noticed that your friend has much less the diet than they used to, or seem underfed and undernourished when you meet them, there could be something very wrong. A usual, healthy person is ravenous when a mealtime comes around, and so if your friend used to be like this, but isn’t any longer; you might have a problem on your hands. If they constantly make excuses when avoiding dinner, or you simply never see them eat in your presence, they could be suffering from an addiction or depression. They might also be suffering from an eating disorder. These problems aren’t isolated, sometimes they’re intrinsically linked. It’s important to understand how to undercut these issues and improve them to the degree that you can as a friend. Gently suggest that they eat more, or bring healthy food to their house. Sometimes, it might be necessary to inform their parents or carers immediately, because not eating is one of those things that can severely weaken a person in the short term. Some addictions can play out for years, but staying undernourished for a matter of weeks can have hugely devastating effects on the body.


Social Isolation


Not everyone is an extrovert. Sometimes, people are introverted too. However, an introvert will always still be available if you really need them. They will let you know what they are doing, and should hopefully be forthright enough to state that they don’t want to relax that evening, or don’t feel like it. If your otherwise extroverted friend, or introverted friend who will happily make an effort for you when they can, is otherwise acting coy and refusing to leave the house, giving shoddier excuses each time they bail, then it might be indicative of a bigger issue.


One of the first and strongest temptations of anyone hiding an addiction is to hide themselves away. When you don’t have to be around people, you don’t have to show anyone the extent of your addiction, and it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that your behavior is completely and totally normal from a logical perspective. Make an effort to be around your friend as much as you can. They might need to it more than you or your friends now. Never give up on inviting them out to be with you, and remember, you needn’t only invite them out for a night on the town or a meal. Sometimes a walk around the local art gallery, or a cup of coffee can be enough to someone who is struggling with a malady.


What Is It?


It’s never easy to identify what the problem could be, but it might follow these paths:




Trauma is not always present. Trauma can occur when an event you’ve been successfully blocking from years ago comes flooding back in a memory, and the act of suppression isn’t strong enough to keep it down. This can affect people in different ways, but it will always be accompanied by some form of odd behavior. Panic attacks and attempts at self-isolation are common. Trauma is a multi-pronged beast, but speaking to them about it can always be helpful. Encourage your friend heavily to meet with a mental health professional in order to get some insight about what is wrong. From there, they can defer them to a specialist or therapist for further help. Sometimes, the first step is the hardest, and because trauma is so debilitating, it might help you to be a good friend and help them make the first step.




Addictions look different depending on the person who is addicted, what the addiction is, the intensity of the addiction as well as how long it’s been going on for. Some are a lot more destructive than others, while some are much easier to hide from people than others. If you have any difficulty in identifying what your friend is going through, it might be worth your time to call a hotline and get some expert advice from this end. Addictions take a long time to recover from, and so making sure your present during this difficult time can leave your friend feeling comfortable in their support network and ability to communicate with you in the future about the maladies or difficulties they face. Who knows, reaching out now might prevent them from making a relapse at some point in their recovery.


Mental Illness


Mental illness can spring up at any time in a person’s life. In fact, it’s often the most prevalent in middle aged people. One in three people will deal with a mental illness at some point in their life, and so it’s important to have an open heart and willingness to communicate about this at any time. Always be reachable to your friends, even if they call you in the middle of the night because you never know exactly what they might need or the trouble they might be in. This is why it’s worth making sure that you and your friends have a strong support network around you. Never isolate yourself due to familial or relational arguments. Always try and be on as good terms as possible with everyone around you to keep the possibility of taking help when you really need it.


These tips will help you identify and help a friends difficulty. Who knows, one day the favor might have to be returned.


Karla Urwitz
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