How to Support Friends Who Are Struggling With Their Mental Health

College, and all that it brings—intense socializing, moving away from home for the first time, the pressure of high level study—can present a huge challenge to some people. Lots of students find it hard to regulate their mental health, and mild to moderate depression and anxiety are very common amongst college students. If one (or more) of your friends is struggling with low mood or anxiety, here are some simple ways you can support them, without taking on a load of added pressure and stress which might threaten your own mental health.

Listen (with boundaries)

One of the most important, useful things you can do is listen to your friend in need. This means putting your phone down, turning to face them and actively listening while they talk. You shouldn’t feel pressure to come up with the perfect response or answer – most people are not really looking for us to fix their problems, knowing that someone cares enough to listen is often enough. Also, if you’re feeling like you’re starting to spend all of your time listening to one or two close friends, set some boundaries and take back some time for yourself—after all, you’re their friend, not their therapist.

Seek Professional Support

If someone you know is struggling, it really is important to recognize when a professional may need to step in. You don’t want to overstep your role or take on more than you mean to, but if you’re seriously worried about your friend it’s probably worth seeking out support from somebody at your college, or maybe even consider making contact with your friend’s family to make them aware of what’s going on.

Plan Some Activities

If someone is suffering from mild depression or anxiety, sometimes all they need is for someone else to suggest some fun, stress-busting activities. Whether you plan a picnic in the local park for your study group, a day out shopping, or a coffee morning for your closest pals, inviting your friend to a few fun events can be enough to get them out of a rut.

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