Tips for Helping a Friend With a Mental Illness

One in five kids is living with a mental illness. If one of your friends has been diagnosed with a mental illness, it could be a confusing time for you. You may not know what to say. Or what to do. But it’s important to just be there for your friend.

A strong support system has been shown to improve how people adapt to living with a mental illness long term.

Check out the tips below to see how you can continue being the best friend possible.

  1. Check in. Keep in touch and let them know you are there if they want to talk. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; it helps you to know how you can be helpful to them. Also, are you planning on seeing a movie this weekend or hanging out at another friend’s house? Include them in plans. Even if they decide not to come, it lets them know they aren’t alone.
  2. Watch what you say. No one wants to have a mental illness. Don’t use phrases like “you’ll get over it” or “snap out of it.” Instead, reassure your friend you are there for them.
  3. Learn about your friend’s mental illness. Your friend may not want to talk about what they are going through, but the more you know, the more you can help them now and in the future.
  4. Talk to someone you trust. It’s ok to feel confused or hurt by things your friend has said or done recently. Talk to someone about how you are feeling who can offer advice on how to help your friend, like a family member, teacher, coach or faith-based leader like a youth pastor.
  5. Just be there. Your friend is going through a big life change. The most important thing you can do is be there. Ask them what you can do to support them.
Sign up for behavioral health resources, information and advocacy opportunities.
Join the movement to transform children’s mental health.