You might feel that friendship doesn’t offer a lot of value in your life, or you might feel as though you already have plenty of support from your family. Whatever your reasons are for dismissing friendship, we are here to help you think about the potential pros of having friends, especially when you’re suffering from mental health illnesses.
WE GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS
It is important to have healthy friendships that you can turn to in times of need. Friends can play a key role in helping us live with or recover from a mental health problem and overcome the isolation that often comes with it.
- Friends provide you with less loneliness and social isolation. Friends help you avoid isolation, but good friends help prevent loneliness.
- Friends reduce stress levels. If you have friends who care and want to help, potential stressors often don’t have the chance to build up and cause distress.
- Emotional support is an important benefit. Your friends might support you by listening, validating your feelings, doing nice things for you just because and helping to distract you when you feel upset or sad.
- Help you maintain or resolve the practice for personal development. Friends can help you grow for the better by setting a good example.
- Foster feelings of belongingness. Knowing you have a support circle can help you feel more secure in your own life.
- Friends will support you through life’s many challenges. Break up or divorce, death of a pet or loved one and unemployment or job loss.
- Genuine friendship lifts up one’s spirit and makes one experience joy in their life. Spend time with your friend doing things you enjoy; hiking, taking an art class or attending pottery classes.
Although you may feel ashamed to “admit” to it, having a friend you feel comfortable talking to will leave you feeling supported, understood and happy
So how do you tell your friend?
- Make sure you’re somewhere you feel comfortable.
- Write down what you want to say.
- Talk about what they can do to support you.
- You don’t have to answer all of their questions.
And on the flip side…
How can you support a friend who has a mental health problem?
- Just be present. To listen or talk.
- Make time for your friend to call, text or visit.
- Acknowledge your friend’s problems, accept them, and treat them with the utmost compassion.
While friendships can be challenging when you have a mental illness, they are ultimately worth the effort. We’ve curated some strategies to help you improve and maintain your friendships.
- Bonds are strengthened when you and your friend both feel valued and appreciated.
- Try out different things (outside of your comfort zone) to improve the relationship by encouraging open communication
- Be vulnerable.
- The dynamic of your friendship will change as you and your friend grow.
- Share important values.
Strong friendships will continue to strengthen you and your mental health because the important things like trust, forgiveness, respect and support will always stay the same.