Help a Friend

If your friend tells you he or she has a mental illness, take a look at our interactive video for tips on how to offer your support. You might also want to respond in any or all of these ways:

  • Express your concern and sympathy.
  • Ask for more details about the person’s diagnosis and how he or she is managing. Really listen to the answers and continue the conversation. Make sure your friend understands that you honestly care.
  • Ask what you can do to help. You can leave this open-ended, or you can suggest specific tasks that might help your friend in his or her specific situation. Rides to medical appointments (or keeping the person company in the waiting room) can ease some of the anxiety and reluctance that people feel when faced with a life-changing diagnosis.
  • You might also offer to help your friend with errands, but be careful not to patronize or make the person feel disempowered.
  • Reassure your friend that you still care about him or her, and be sure to include him or her in your everyday plansógoing out to lunch, catching a movie, taking a jog. If your friend resists these overtures, reassure and reinvite without being overbearing.
  • Remind your friend that mental illness is treatable. Find out if he or she is getting the care he or she needs. If not, offer your help in identifying and getting the right kind of care.
  • If a friend is having a psychiatric emergency, ask them what kind of help they need and respond immediately. It is important to give them hope and encourage them to seek support, including calling a crisis line, or the National Suidcide Prevention Line at 1.800.273.TALK (8255).
  • Immediate medical attention is also in order if somebody you care about is very weak or ill from an eating disorder.

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