Most young adults turn to their friends for help if they are experiencing emotional distress or having a problem. Friends are often the first line of support for young adults living with a mental health condition.
However, it can be difficult to know how to respond appropriately when a friend shares with you that he or she has been diagnosed with a mental health condition or is worried about his or her mental health. How you respond may depend on how close you are as a friend. If you have a long history with your friend, you may feel more comfortable talking about the issue and serving as a key source of support. If you are an acquaintance, your role may be telling someone else who can better help your friend. In any situation, the best way to help a friend is to remain in contact and to be supportive and encouraging in getting them to seek help.
Here are some tips on what else you can say and do:
If you think your friend may be considering suicide, it is always good to start a conversation with him or her. Sometimes just talking about it may help your friend feel less alone and more cared about and understood. It also allows you to get help for your friend. Most of the time, young adults considering suicide are willing to talk if someone asks them out of concern or care. If your friend does reveal to you that he or she is considering suicide, you must get help as soon as possible—even if your friend swears you to secrecy. Your friend’s life may depend on it so it is critical to tell someone you trust as soon as you can or have your friend call the National Suicide Prevention LifeLine at 1 (800) 271-TALK (8255).
For more information on helping a friend living with a mental health condition, visit What A Difference A Friend Makes. Also check out the Friends and Family section on StrengthofUs.org, NAMI's social networking and online resource center for young adults.
Support NAMI to help millions of Americans who face mental illness every day.Donate today
Inspire others with your message of hope. Show others they are not alone.Share your story
Become an advocate. Register on NAMI.org to keep up with NAMI news and events.Join NAMI Today