Information for Friends, Family, Carers and Allies
Behaviours that a young person experiencing mental distress may exhibit include:
• Self-harm that causes a risk to the self
• Harm to other people
• Hearing voices or holding fixed irrational beliefs
• Talking and/ or acting in a way that suggests their life has no sense of purpose - feelings of hopelessness and wanting to die
• Episodes of sudden rage and anger
• Appearing extremely anxious and agitated and unable to become calm
Mental Health First Aid suggest the following advice:
A Assess for risk of suicide or harm
L Listen non-judgementally
G Give reassurance and Information
E Encourage appropriate professional help
E Encourage self-help and other support strategies
Supporting friends who have mental distress
In a workshop carried out at Gendered Intelligence we considered how best we can support one another in our community. We agreed that listening, respecting boundaries, offering support by enabling your friend to access the right kind of help are the best approaches.
If you are supporting a friend through their mental distress, it is important that you remember to also look after yourself.
Remember that whilst a person may need immediate support it is important to recognize that your friendship is still growing. It’s nice to be kind to new friends but you shouldn't feel trapped in feeling you have to be there for them all of the time. It’s a tricky balancing act but remember good friendships grow over time and there is no need to rush at things, because one of you are in need. If it’s starting to feel uncomfortable for you it’s a good idea to be honest and communicate that back to your friend.
It may be that their mental distress means that your friend needs professional support.
• Tell each other how you feel/be honest/check in/communicate
• Be clear/set expectations of what it means to be a friend
• Take Time to build friendships and trust
In a crisis:
• Call 999
• Confide in a parent, carer, teacher or another professional person who you trust