Mental health has been a hot topic lately, especially given Nadine Lustre's recent tiffs online, and how open she is about her own struggle with depression. According to the Department of Health, at three million Filipinos struggle with mental health issues like this, and it's more than likely that we may know someone like this and care deeply for them, too.
On your own, here are some things you can do to help support them when they go hit the occasional rough spot:
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1. Read up
Mental health issues are often a delicate topic to talk about, but we're lucky enough to live in the information age, where everything is just at the touch of a button and a quick Google search. Learning more about your friends' struggles may help you to understand and be a better friend for them.
2. Hear them out
Talking out their problems with you is often one of the best things you can do—be open to listening to them, and make sure your friends and loved ones feel like you're a safe space where they could honestly talk about their feelings. Know that no matter how strange or ridiculous their feelings might be, they're still just as valid as anybody else's feelings, and just like us on a bad day, these feelings don't just disappear in a snap when someone tells them to cheer up.
3. Exercise patience
Often, it can get frustrating to watch someone keep stumbling over the same problems. Remember: depression is a healing process, and just like a broken bone or a torn muscle, people don't get better from these things overnight. Sometimes, the aches and pains from these stick around all their lives, and that doesn't make you any less of a friend if you try to make things easier for them.
4. Be there
It can be as simple as this, even: Offer to be a listening ear for them, go out for a good meal, or even just go out for a walk and some fresh air. Sometimes, they might not feel like they're up for it, and don't take it personally when that happens. Depression can make plenty of people feel like it's a chore to even get out of bed, and it's nobody's fault when feelings like that come up. What's important is that they don't feel so alone, and an effort is always appreciated, even if things don't go along perfectly!
5. Take care of yourself, too
It might feel like you have to drop everything to help take care of someone who's got it worse, but always remember that you can't be of much help if you're tired or burned out, and you might even end up making things worse for your friend if you make a wrong move on a bad day. Talk clearly about setting limits and boundaries, and know that it's just as important for your friends to see you healthy, happy, and well, too.
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Sources: American Psychological Association, Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
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