Friends can be the first to notice changes in other friends. It may be a change in mood, behaviours or activities. You may notice that your friend seems tired all the time or gets irritated easily. Maybe they’ve stopped hanging out and spend more time alone. Sometimes it’s hard to say what’s different, but you have a sense that something is wrong. Or, maybe they’ve confided in you that they are struggling with their mental health.

Many young people turn to their friends for help if they’re having a problem of any kind. An important part of friendship is knowing how to support a friend.

How Can You Help?

You probably already know some ways to support your friends.   It is a great skill you will use all the way through your life. Think about how your family or your friends have supported you at difficult times or how you’ve been there for someone else in the past.

In this section, you will find tips and ideas for how to support a friend:

  • when you first start to notice changes that concern you
  • as they try to overcome their mental health struggles and learn how to manage
  • to maintain and strengthen their mental wellness (and yours as well!)

Signs Your Friend May Need Support

All of us have probably had a time when a friend seemed to be struggling. It can be difficult to know if a friend is just dealing with the everyday challenges of life or if it’s something more serious.

People experiencing mental health challenges may show changes in the way they think, feel or behave.

Signs a friend may need some support:

  • They don’t seem to enjoy activities as much.
  • They seem distracted or have trouble focusing.
  • They’re unusually worried about things that don’t seem to be a big deal to others.
  • Their eating habits have changed. They avoid hanging out at lunch or make excuses about not eating.
  • They’re always tired or complain they aren’t sleeping well.
  • They miss more and more time from school or work.
  • They drink or use drugs or other substances more.
  • They’re often sad and find it hard to see any positives in their life.
  • They spend more time alone. They don’t want to hang out with friends or do any of their usual activities.

If you’ve noticed changes in a friend that have been going on for a while or seem to be getting worse, it’s time to take action. Check out the other sections for tips on how to help a friend through tough times.