If your friend is experiencing mental health problems, there are a lot of things - big and small - that you can do to help. These stories are about the good and bad ways that friends have responded to someone with a mental health problem.
I’m Chris. I'm 21. I've lived with depression for most of my life, ever since I was a kid. I never used to understand the thoughts and feelings that I had. In my teenage years, I started to develop feelings of low self-esteem and confidence that affected my everyday actions and thoughts. I never talked to anyone about what I was going through – ever. I just hid my thoughts and feelings and thought I could deal with it that way. That was such a mistake.
Sometimes the thought of being there for someone can be pretty daunting. We question whether we’ll have the time, whether we can say the right thing, and perhaps if we’re having a hard time too, whether we can truly give another person the support they might need. In my experience however, being there for someone can range from offering up my spare time or gifts, to simply sending a text and letting someone know you’re thinking about them.
Over the last 4 years I have had two episodes of clinical depression. In August last year I was admitted for 4 weeks to an inpatient unit due to the seriousness of my symptoms. The reason I want to share this is that it’s so important that we feel able to talk to our managers and colleges about our mental well being without fear of being viewed as somehow “not able to cope” or in some way incapable.
It was 2006 and over the previous three years I had spent more time in hospital than out of hospital. I’d been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and had become quite recluse. This point in time was, looking back, perhaps the low point of my life, I had almost given up on friendship altogether. I’d hardly seen my friends since becoming unwell.