Friends are often the first to notice or to know that someone is struggling with a problem. A person who is worried about their changes in moods, thoughts or behaviours will often confide in a friend. A friend may therefore act as a support in helping someone confront the issue.
- Worry about asking your friend if there is a problem in case it affects the friendship.
- Worry that you are over reacting or hope that it is a ‘passing phase’.
- Feel hurt or angry that your friend is behaving in this way.
- Feel ‘left out’ due to the secrecy of the condition (the condition can often be a ‘competitor’).
- Not know if you’ve got it right or how best to act in the circumstances.
- Feel insecure about the concerns it raises about yourself, whether it’s about you as a friend or about how you feel about yourself.
- Feel bad at going to social occasions on your own when it used to be the two of you.
4 identification facts
- Your friend may be quiet, sad and withdrawn most of the time when they weren’t like that before.
- Your friend may have a very negative outlook when they were pretty positive before.
- Your friend may look really tired because they have difficulty sleeping and say that they have lost their appetite.
- Your friend may have started to neglect themselves – for example they may not care about how they look when they took a lot of trouble before or they may carry out some risky behaviour which could harm them.
- Your friend may react to things really quickly and sensitively for example tearful very easily or angry or irritated when they weren’t like that before.
4 stages of bringing about change
- Talk to your friend – listen but don’t criticise.
- Tell your friend you are worried about them and encourage them to speak to someone responsible. This could be a teacher you can approach, a parent, a peer counsellor or a school counsellor.
- If your school has links with stem4, we will be working with your school to establish an identified person/people you can approach
- Offer to support her or him by: finding useful information about depression (stem4 website); accompanying them to see someone who can help (named peer counsellor at school, school nurse, school counsellor, sibling, parents, parents of another friend, GP, practice nurse)
- If dealing with your friend brings up issues about mood that bother you, take steps to talk to someone too.