You don’t need any special talents to be a support to a friend. Anyone can do it. These are the 4 key skills to helping someone out. And if you don’t have them all, no problem, just do whatever you feel you can.
Look for the signs - you may notice a friend changes the way they act, or look. Maybe they’re not hanging out with you anymore. Perhaps they’re tired all the time and nothing seems to interest them or they’re really grumpy.
If you see any of those changes, don’t be shy about asking if they’re ok.
Listen to them. Relax, you’re not expected to come up with an instant solution. Just really listen to what they have to say. Even if you don’t understand what they’re going through, accept that it’s very real to them. Let them know you’re happy to listen- that alone is a huge help.
Have a chat. If you’re worried about saying the wrong thing, don’t be. But to make it work better for both of you, here are a few tips:
- Pick a place that’s quiet and private
- Give yourself plenty of time
- Listen, more than talk
- Save your advice for later
- Listen hard to understand how they’re feeling
- Show you’re listening. Don’t be fiddling with your mobile. Sitting face to face lets them see your reactions. Listening isn’t the same thing as agreeing. You can understand another person’s point of view without agreeing with it.
- Try to ask open-ended questions like; “How are you feeling?” or “Why do you think that?”
Get help together. And if your friend needs help to actually do something about how they’re feeling, gently encourage them to act. Suggest they talk to their family, doctor or helpline. You could help by finding someone or offering to go along with them. And if the first person doesn’t work out, help them try another. Also, you’ll find heaps of tips on this site to make it a little easier for them to get through their depression or anxiety and for you to better understand where they’re at.