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Helping a friend

Are you concerned about your friend’s mental health issues, but not sure what to do about it? Read on to find some more guidance on what you can do to help.

In general:

  1. Encourage your friend to get professional help. Professional help is the most effective input for someone who is struggling emotionally. It may be useful to support your friend in seeking help, such as encouraging them to organise a first appointment.
  2. Set aside time to talk to your friend and check in about how they are doing.
  3. Listen to what your friend is saying and be kind and accepting. This is more helpful than telling your friend to “cheer up”, “just get on with it”, or turning to logical arguments to make them feel better.
  4. Know your limits. You shouldn’t have to be available 24/7 for a friend. It is also important to remember that you are not their therapist, and shouldn’t try to be. Also, avoid diagnosing your friend or criticising them for their difficulties.
  5. Talk to your friend about everyday things, rather than just their mental health.

In a crisis:

  1. Listen to your friend.
  2. Ask what would help them right now.
  3. Reassure them and point out resources.
  4. Encourage them to get help.
  5. Avoid confrontation.
  6. Ask if there’s someone they’d like you to contact.
  7. Take action if your friend is in danger. You can contact CCDU, Campus Control or the Wits student crisis line on 0800 111 331.

For someone in crisis, their experiences may be frightening and upsetting for them. Gently remind the person who you are and that you’re there to help. Don’t reinforce or dismiss their experiences, but acknowledge how they are feeling. While reassuring your friend - make sure that you get help for them.

Adapted from 

Check out CCDU’s resources and contact pages for more information.

Wits Student Crisis Line  0800 111 331 (24/7/365)