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How To Respond When Your Mate Says That They’re NOT Ok

We all know which question to ask, but what next?

The ‘R U Okay’ campaign is all about ridding the stigma around mental health issues,  and the importance of checking up on your mates. We’ve all heard the stats and facts for all the reasons why we should be asking those around us if they’re okay.

But… what if they’re not? Sometimes hearing that our friends are struggling can catch us off guard. Here’s the best way to handle it when you don’t actually know how to deal with your mate’s struggles.

Don’t Just Tell Them It’ll Be Fine

This is the number one mistake people make when dealing with friends or family members suffering mental health issues. It is our natural human reaction to tell someone who is struggling that, “everything is going to be okay,” or “remember how much everyone loves you.” Unfortunately, saying things like that puts even more pressure on your mate and can actually make them feel worse. Swap out those phrases for ones like, “I can’t imagine how hard what you’re going through is.” People who are struggling need to know that their pain is valid. The best thing you can do for them is just to have empathy. Just sit with them, listen and be there for them.

Don’t Rely On Them To Tell You What To Do

It can be difficult to understand, but people who are really struggling don’t  always know what they need. And sometimes, thinking about what they might need can be stressful for them. Take the pressure off your mate and do something without asking. Bring them a home-cooked lasagne so you know that they have dinner to eat. Or make them a copy of your lecture notes, so they don’t fall behind. Little things go a long way.

Most Importantly, Help Them To Get Help

Admitting that you need help can be very scary. Offer to make an appointment for them, drive them or even go with them. Your friend may have been wanting to get help for a while, but needs some encouragement. Having a support system is so important and will help your mate to know they are not going through their struggle alone.

There are a number of hotlines you can call or websites to visit if your friend needs professional help, urgently:

  • Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
  • Headspace (for young people aged 12-25) 1800 650 890

If your friend is feeling suicidal:

  • Lifeline (24-hour crisis telephone counselling) 13 11 14
  • Suicide Callback Service 1300 659 467

If it is an emergency and the person is at serious risk of hurting themselves, call 000.

Image Sources: GIPHY, Unsplash 

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