4 Friends



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.

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difficulty in being a friend

You may
  • 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  • Your friend may be quiet, sad and withdrawn most of the time when they weren’t like that before.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

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  • 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)
Look after yourself
  • If dealing with your friend brings up issues about mood that bother you, take steps to talk to someone too.