Understanding the Mental Health
of Your Friend: A Guide
By Daniel Clark
When your friend chooses to speak of the mental health issues that they might have been dealing with for a while now, it’s quite normal to not know your place in the conversation. However, the one thing you must keep in mind throughout the talk is the fact that your friend trusts you enough to have said it and believes you are capable of taking it. No, you don’t need to panic or begin to immediately look for options for counseling in Charlotte, but you do need to be there for them.
Now the activity of ‘being there’ for someone can get confusing. Should you get them tea or should you simply listen? Begin by hearing out everything that the other has to say. Although depression and anxiety disorders are the more common forms of mental illnesses, there are many more illnesses that fall under the list. Bipolar disorders, personality disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse disorders, etc.
Mental illnesses are often treated as personal weaknesses, as a person’s incapability to be able to deal with a problem by themselves. But the actual question should be, why must a person bear the burden of all their problems alone? It’s common practice to make a person feel guilty for speaking up about their issues and make them feel even more isolated than they were to start with, but all that does is avoid the problem at hand. When we ignore the symptoms that any of our friends or acquaintances might be giving us or react to a person opening up to us in a negative manner, we simply heighten the barrier that the person already held. Aggravation of mental illnesses then tends to lead to either psychopathic tendencies or to suicidal thoughts.
In order to avoid reaching either of the two stages, it’s important to understand the mental illness as it is. What does the illness mean, what are the symptoms, what aggravates and what can help deal with it on a more subtle note? Of course, therapy falls under the to-do list at some point, but it’s almost never the first step to getting better. Therapy is the step you take after you feel at least a part of the support backing you up to some extent. If you, as a friend, are able to support your friend even after they open up to you, that’s the opening they need in order to be able to take any step they need to for their own self-care.
You can begin by asking questions. Understand how they’re feeling and how the illness has managed to take over their life. Even though mental health falls under a list of illnesses, it’s essential you don’t take any drastic step without taking the consent of your friend. If they’re suffering, it’s likely that they won’t be comfortable with every single thing you choose to do. Ask, and then take them to watch speeches of mental health speakers, urge them to speak up about their problems themselves (if not publicly, at least to you), allow them to call you and talk to you whenever needed since that can help a lot more than any of us would like to admit. Then, finally, speak to them about therapy. is the perfect place to start. As one of the best therapists in Charlotte, NC, not only will they know exactly how to speak to your friend but also help them open up more to you.
Therapists are limitless and so are mental illnesses, but the friends you make will always be a selected few. Tell them you love them and take care of them in the same way that you would hope to be taken care of.