Be there for a friend suffering from depression
If you know someone suffering from depression or someone you suspect is suffering from depression, it can be hard to know exactly how to help or what to say.
Here are some great tips from Reach Out, an Australian non profit dedicated to youth mental health.
1. Become informed
Not totally sure what depression is or what it means for your friend? A great first step in helping your friend is to find out more about depression – which will help you better understand what they’re going through. Au.reachout.com has some great resources on this.
2. Be there to listen
If your friend feels like talking, ask them how they’re doing. Try asking questions like, “What can I do to help?” and “What do you find helpful?” When you want to bring up a sensitive issue with a friend, try to choose a time and place when you’re both comfortable and relaxed.
3. Take their feelings seriously
If someone is suffering from symptoms of depression, it isn’t possible for them just to ‘snap out of it’, ‘cheer up’ or ‘forget about it’. When you listen to them and validate their feelings by saying things like ‘That must be really hard’ or ‘I’m here when you want to talk’, they’ll know you’re taking their feelings seriously.
4. Let them know about support services
If your friend has already seen a GP or mental health professional, that’s awesome. If not, it’s a good idea to suggest they see someone. If they are hesitant, you could let them know there are also online and email counselling services available that might feel less intimidating.
5. Respond to emergencies
If you think your friend may be in danger or at risk of hurting themselves or someone else, seek help immediately. Call your local emergency services and also tell someone you trust.
6. Take care of yourself
It can be incredibly frustrating, exhausting and upsetting to deal with someone who is experiencing depression. You can be there to support your friend only if you look after yourself as well. Remember to make sure your own wellbeing is looked after.