Friends and Family

If you're feeling low, friends and family can be vital sources of support and can help you cope with stressful situations and difficult times.

You may feel that people won’t understand but often people surprise you. They may have experienced difficult times themselves and be able to offer advice. But it is important to remember that, for most people, your friends and family care about you and will want what’s best for you and will want to help you if they can.

When you are feeling down or having a hard time, it is important to spend time with other people. Spending too much time on your own can sometimes make you feel worse.

how Friends and family can help

You can talk over problems or things that are bothering you or talk about how you are feeling.

  • If you are stressed or feeling low, they can help you by talking things through, being there for you or providing emotional support.
  • People who are close to you will notice changes in your mood. They will probably know if you are not feeling your best.
  • They can help you with practical support and also emotional support – for example, with practical support if you have a party that you feel you have to go to but feel uncomfortable going on your own, a friend can go with you. Emotionally, if you feel uncomfortable going to see a doctor and talking about a mental health problem, a friend or family member could go with you to help you to get across how you are feeling or just be there with you.
  • Sometimes if you are experiencing a difficult time, it is important to know you are not on your own and surrounding yourself with friends and family can help.
  • Sometimes treatment for mental health problems such as cognitive behavioural therapy introduces coping strategies and your friends and family can help you to devise these and support you with them.

If you are feeling down or anxious or think you might have a mental health problem and feel you want to talk to somebody about how you are feeling, here are some tips on how to choose someone to talk to.

  • Think about who you find it easy to talk to about personal matters. This could be your mum or dad, a sibling, cousin or friend.
  • Think about who you trust.
  • Choose someone who is non-judgemental and a good listener.
  • If you are choosing a friend, you may want to pick someone you have known for a while rather than a new friend you have only met a couple of times as you are more likely to have a better picture of someone you have known longer.
  • You might choose to talk to someone who you think may have been in a similar situation to you or would have empathy with how you are feeling. This is often why people choose forums because they feel comfortable talking to people who have experienced similar things to them.

Talking things through

Top tips to help you feel comfortable talking about your problems.

  1. Pick a time that is good for you both, where you both have enough time to have this conversation properly and without being interrupted.
  2. Go somewhere to talk where it is quiet and you will be able to concentrate.
  3. Explain how you are feeling and any concerns you may have.
  4. Ask for advice or support and explain what this friend of family member can do to help. Often friends and families can feel helpless and don’t know what is the best way to help so can either go overboard and overwhelm you or give you space which can make you feel like they don’t care. If you are clear about how they can help you it will make the situation easier for both of you. For example, you might say, "I am worried that I am feeling depressed, would you come to the doctors with me to discuss this?"
  5. Make it clear if you do not want this person to say anything to anybody else. If you want to keep it between the two of you for now, make sure the person you are talking to knows this.

Most people will have someone who they can talk to, either a friend or a family member. If you really feel you don’t have anybody to talk to, you may want to join an online forum where people are experiencing similar situations to you; for example, or ring a helpline.

For more information

If you are finding it hard to identify someone you feel comfortable talking to, there are phone lines that you can ring to talk through your problems.

If you are worried about a friend you could look at Epic Friends for advice.