Worried about a friend or relative?

When people feel that they are in some kind of trouble, the first person they often turn to is a friend or family member.

  • Your friend or relative may have worries which s/he is confused about, and you may feel that you ought to know the answers, even if you don’t.
  • Your friend or relative may have told you things which are now making you feel worried and upset too.
  • Perhaps you have information about something which your friend has told you to keep to yourself, but you are not really sure whether this is right. You may know your friend’s family, friends or tutors, and feel that you should let them know, fearing that they will be angry with you for keeping things from them.
  • You may feel anxious and frightened in the situation, and yet feel that you can’t ask anyone for help.
  • You may know and understand why your friend is in trouble, and feel that s/he brought it on themselves. This may feel disloyal and as if you are not a true friend, or it may be hard to watch a friend suffer when you feel there is something s/he could do about it.
  • You may have offered to help your friend, but now your friend is making a lot of demands on you and it’s taking up a lot of your time and energy. You may be feeling bad, or tired, or miserable.

Things that may help

  • You could talk to someone about the way you are feeling. You can do this without giving your friend’s name – this is not betraying a confidence, it is helping you to cope with the situation more easily, and this may help your friend too. You could talk to a Counsellor
  • You can get information about the problem or the situation which your friend is having to deal with. You may find it easier to do this because you are at a distance, and you may be able to ask the kinds of questions which your friend would find it hard to ask. Once you have more information, it may be easier to talk things through. The Wellbeing Service Drop Ins are avaiable during term-time.
  • Listening to someone may not feel as if you are doing very much, but in fact it can be a big help.
  • If helping your friend has become very difficult, you have the right to say this to your friend. Saying these things may feel very hard, but if you explain the reasons, this may help your friend understand that you care and that it is also important that you look after yourself as well. If you become as anxious and worried as your friend or relative, neither of you will be able to see ways round the difficulties.
  • You may know something about a situation which could be life- threatening. If you are not sure what to do about this, and are frightened to pass the information on for any reason, it will certainly help you to talk to someone else (someone you can trust such as a counsellor) so you can share your concerns and worries. You don’t have to give all the details at this stage, and it may help you to make a decision.
  • To help you give emotional and practical support to a friend or relative experiencing mental health problems, you might like to have a look at the booklet How to cope as a carer

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