Uni can be a stressful time with lots of work building up over the weeks. So how can you help your friend suffering with their mental illness as well as looking after your own mental health?

Everyone needs to look after their mental health so how can you help others who are struggling? You may be cautious about what to say and what not to say so here's a guide to help you understand your friend whilst looking after your own mental health when uni can get stressful.

 

Listen and chat

Everyone needs to open up now and then. Having someone to listen and share the problem with can make things a lot easier. This can also bring you closer to your friend and get to know them a lot better.

 

It’s ok to rant

After a long, hard day there’s nothing better than falling onto a sofa and just ranting to the world about how you’re feeling. It’s not hard to listen to someone express how they feel. It can be difficult to put into words exactly what you or your friend may be feeling so you can always come up with ‘codes’ that can make it easier for you or your friend to express to each other how you are feeling without having to explicitly describe every detail. For example, 'I'm feeling green' can mean 'I'm feeling really good today' or 'I'm feeling amber' can mean 'I'm ok but im not 100% and can't put my finger on why'.

 

Help them focus on what they enjoy

It’s always easy to have a chat about how difficult a task is, but getting your friend to talk about what they enjoy can help them focus on what they love and their interests that led them into their degree. It can also help you focus on your own passions, too.

 

Encourage them to come out

Create opportunities that enable them to have the option to choose whether or not they want to come out. Drinks down the pub can go on for hours, but an event where you have to book specific numbers can be more restrictive. Giving your friend the option to come out or not can be a really good way to let them know that they are welcome but there's no pressure to go out.

 

Everyone likes to stay in bed

Sometimes staying and snuggling in bed watching Netflix all day is what some people want, so respect their choices.

No prejudice preaching

Every experience of mental illness is different. People suffer with different mental illnesses with different levels of severity. Everyone is at different stage of coping, so be aware of that. Instructing your friend to ‘get on with it’ or to ‘stop being selfish’ will only makes things worse. Just think about how you would feel if someone told you that you weren’t trying your best at something when in reality you were giving it your all.

 

Be honest with yourself

If you feel you are not comfortable helping your friend with their mental illness then you must be honest. Every student has a lot of pressure on their shoulders to perform well at university at several different tasks and topics. Being honest with yourself and your friend will save you tip-toeing around the subject and letting problems brew.

 

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