Stigma around the actual process of helping those with mental health is even present with health care providers who allocate funding towards other physical diseases above mental heath programs. This is absurd as mental health is the second biggest killer of adolescents in the United States just behind car accidents.
When we see someone who is sad, angry or anxious, it is our instinct to ask “what’s wrong?” However, someone dealing with a mental health problem may have certain thoughts or feelings that aren’t related to a specific situation or event.
How you respond to a friend or classmate that is showing signs of emotional distress or a potential problem is often dependent on your relationship with that person.
Brief screenings are the quickest way to determine if you or someone you care about should connect with a mental health professional - they are a check up from your neck up. This screening is completely anonymous and confidential, and directly after the questionnaire you will see your results, recommendations, and key resources.
When we see someone who is sad, angry or anxious, it is our instinct to ask “what’s wrong?” However, someone dealing with a mental health problem may have certain thoughts or feelings that aren’t related to a specific situation or event. So when approaching a friend who is showing signs of a problem or dealing with emotional distress, it is important to be patient and supportive. You may not be able to understand how your friend is feeling and it may seem uncomfortable or awkward to discuss personal and emotional issues, but you can listen and let them know they aren’t alone.
Here are some key points you can communicate to a friend in need.
We all go through tough times. Sometimes people see asking for help as a sign of weakness so you can comfort your friend by giving them an example of a time you or someone you know struggled and needed support.
You can feel better. Your friend may feel hopeless or like no one can understand or help them, so it’s important to make them see that reaching out for support is the first step to feeling better. Mental health problems are treatable and manageable once identified, so sometimes we need a mental check-up in the same way we get other medical exams.
It’s OK to ask for help. Remember that our backgrounds, cultures and experiences can have a huge impact on how we view help-seeking. Some people may come from families or cultures where asking for help or seeing a mental health professional is shunned or thought of as weak. Thinking about why a friend might be reluctant get help can be important in deciding how to suggest they reach out for support.
If you are concerned that a friend is thinking about harming themselves or someone else, it is important that you don’t try and deal with that situation alone. You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK for guidance or contact your school’s counseling center or a mental health professional in your community.
If there is an immediate threat of harm, call 9-1-1 or your school’s emergency number.
How you respond to a friend or classmate that is showing signs of emotional distress or a potential problem is often dependent on your relationship with that person. If you have a long history and friendship with the person, you may be a key resource for support and feel comfortable having a discussion with your friend about how they are feeling. If the person struggling is a more recent acquaintance, like a roommate or classmate, your role may involve letting someone else know about the problem.
It is important to remember that you aren’t a therapist and it isn’t your job to provide treatment. Your role is to be supportive and encourage them to reach out to family, the counseling center or another medical professional as a first step — even if you don’t fully understand the problem or its severity.
Despite your good intentions, your friend might be reluctant to accept the possibility that they could have an emotional disorder and they may not react to support in a positive way. They might say that the best way to help is to “back off” or ignore the problem, but it is important that you don’t:
Taking on the burden of a friend in emotional distress can be extremely stressful and draining so remember to recognize your limits and take care of your own emotional health.
Women are twice as likely to have depression & symptoms of depression as men of the same age
60-80% of all depression cases can be effectively treated with psychotherapy & antidepressant medications
1 in 2 mental disorders begin before the age of 14
Genes & biology are both risk factors in the development of mental illness
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students