Having a friend with mental health issues can be extremely confusing, especially when you don’t understand what they’re going through. Why are they secluding themselves? Why don’t they act as happy to see you or hang out as they used to? Why are they sad or anxious or irritable?
It can be hard, right? Wondering what to say to them or how to act around them.
The thought hopefully has crossed your mind, “How can I help?”
Well, I’m passionate about compassion and thoughtfulness. It comes naturally to me after all the fear I’ve endured. I want people to feel comfortable around me and know they are loved. Because of this, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I could do for people. Call me an empath, but I take on the emotions of others and I know how I would like to be treated. So, If you have a friend you want to help, keep reading.
In light of my (probably unhealthy) amount of empathy and overthinking, I’ve compiled a list of things you could do for or say to your mentally ill friend! These are things that I would appreciate my friends or family doing for me, and I hope you decide to brighten your struggling friend’s day.
Things to Say to Your Friend
Whether your loved one is suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder, etc., we can all agree that words are far more important and special than any material gift. What can you possibly say to help? I’ll tell you some of the most appreciated things you could say:
- “I’m here for you.”
A simple sentence like “I’m here for you” can mean the world to a struggling soul. Don’t underestimate the power of words.
- “Is there anything I can do for you?”
They will most likely say no, but offering a helping hand can be very useful for people with anxiety or depression. Sometimes, we just need someone to run those errands for us while we’re in a slump, or we just may need company.
- “Do you want to talk about it?”
Often, people with anxiety or depression issues bottle up their emotions. Once asked “Are you OK?” or “Do you need to talk about anything?” they burst and spill everything in a fit of tears. People have to talk to others, and asking if someone needs to get anything off their chest is the first step.
- “Do you want me to come over?”
Another variation of this is “I”m bringing ice cream and we’re watching Netflix.” Your friend will appreciate this simple gesture more than you know. Simply knowing somebody is willing to drop what they’re doing to spend time with you means so much. And, often, the company is welcome.
- “Can you explain how you’re feeling so I can understand?”
This question is beyond thoughtful. If you’re confused about your friend’s struggles, don’t try to figure it out on your own! Ask them! The only person who fully understands anxiety and depression is the anxious and depressed, and they can explain it to you! If you ask this question, be prepared to be upgraded to best friend ever.
- “You don’t deserve this.”
In my experience with mental disorders, the symptoms can be so persistent and miserable that I start to question myself. I ask myself “What did I do to deserve this?” Being reminded by someone you love that you do not deserve your situation can be enough to abandon that train of thought.
- “You are so strong.”
When in a low place, it’s easy to begin to believe that you are weak. In reality, weakness has nothing to do with mental illness, because nothing is braver than battling your own mind every single day. Please remind your friend that they are so strong and brave.
- “I appreciate you.”
Knowing that you are appreciated is a blessing in and of itself. Let your loved one know you appreciate them and all the reasons why.
- “I’m proud of you.”
This phrase isn’t reserved for huge accomplishments like graduating from college or getting your dream job. This phrase should be used in daily life to let your friend know that you are proud of them for simply being alive and fighting their struggles every day.
- “I love you.”
I love you will forever be the three most important words. All of your thoughtfulness and thankfulness and admiration can be summed up by saying “I love you so much.”
Things to Do for Your Friend
Although words are far more important, actions are appreciated, too! You don’t have to make a grand gesture to let people know you care about them. So, what are some actions that your mentally ill friend would appreciate? Let’s see:
- Go to their house and visit
Whether you only have time to stop in or you spend the whole day with them, the feeling of knowing they aren’t a burden or disliked will give your friend so much encouragement. Bring lunch to them, have a Netflix binge, prepare an at-home spa day, anything you think they would enjoy!
- Buy them a relaxation gift
Get them some aromatherapy candles off of Amazon or a back massager. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful!
- Fill out a “Why I Love You” book
One of the sweetest gifts I ever received was one of these books from my sister. I’ve also given a few of these to people. You go through the book writing down different things you love about the person you’re gifting it to. The epitome of thoughtful!
- Send them a letter
Who ever said sending letters was old fashioned? Taking the time to write down your thoughts to people is so loving. Write down why you love the person, your favorite memories of them, some of their quirks you admire, why you’re proud of them, why you appreciate them. I can guarantee the letter will be cherished for years.
Thank You for Reading!
I hope you enjoyed this article! I also hope that you choose to support and encourage your friends in these simple ways. These words and actions would be appreciated by everybody, not just people with mental struggles! Thanks for reading to the end and supporting the blog!