4 Tips For Helping A Friend Who Is Struggling With Mental Illness

I don’t think I’d be sitting here today if I didn’t have the incredible support that I did when I hit my first *rock bottom.* My family was a huge part of this, but my best friend + college roommate, Kellan, was even bigger. While I had originally been determined not to let anyone know, I did eventually open up to Kellan. Having Kellan’s shoulder to lean on when things were bad was one of the things that kept me going + looking back today, I know she was a huge part of helping me become the person I am today. Heck, without Kellan, I would never have found CHAARG!

Supporting a friend who is struggling with depression, anxiety, or any mental illness can be difficult — but it can also be a lifesaving difference. A few of you have reached out asking how you can better support your friend, sister, mom, cousin, or anyone else who is struggling with depression, which makes my heart so full. Below are 4 ways to help support someone who is feelin’ the blues, but know that you are already making such an amazing difference in their life by simply just being a friend —

This sounds so simple, but I cannot stress how important it is. Not everyone is going to want to share how they are feeling [+ that is OK!], but if they do, the most important thing is to just listen. You might not completely relate [or even understand] + that is OK. Just letting them talk, share, cry, + release can be so helpful ++ make sure they know you love them unconditionally. Let them know that you’re not going to judge them for anything they say, + that you love every part of them no matter what will create a safe space for them to share ++ for you to determine ways that you can best support them.

** If your friend ever describes thoughts of harming themselves or someone else, it is important to take action + get help immediately. You can always call the Suicide Prevention Hotline [1-800-Suicide] or 911. This is always something to take very seriously.

Some days when you are depressed, it’s hard to even get out of bed. However, studies show that working out can alleviate the symptoms of depression. Encouraging your friend to join you at a yoga class, hitting the gym together for a #CHAARGBootycamp workout, or even taking a 20-minute walk outside together is a great way to help your friend get their day moving + release some feel-good endorphins!

When I’m in a *blue mood,* I always crave comfort food, like grilled cheese + warm chocolate chip cookies. It’s of course OK to treat yourself to these foods sometimes, but depression lasts longer than one or two meals. Offering to cook a meal with them that is full of nutritious fruits, greens, proteins, + grains will make it easier to eat the healthy foods that all of our bodies need for nourishment but don’t always want. It’s also a fun + easy thing to do together.

Think of depression as an emotional flu — what do you do when someone you love about has a nasty cold? You take care of them! Bring them soup, sit with them + watch movies, ++ remind them to take it easy. If someone is going through a sleep, they need that same kind of TLC. Remind them that you’re thinking of them + offer to join them for their fav activities, like watching their fav rom-com. It might be tempting to invite them out to *distract* them with other friends, but respect their need to take care of themselves. You can make them feel less alone by spending quality time with them!

There are so many ways to support someone who is struggling with depression or anxiety — sometimes it’s most helpful to ask them, “What can I do to best support you right now?” ++ allow them to tell you. Even if they don’t have something that you can *do* to help, just knowing that you are there for them can make a huge difference.

Don’t ever hesitate to reach out with questions — I’m always here for you.

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