Friends are a great asset to your life, especially when you're a teenager. But when you realize that your friend is suffering, it can be a bit unnerving.
You may notice that they are losing weight, not taking care of themselves, or not functioning as well as they used to. Maybe your friend makes an outright confession to you about something:
"I have been cutting myself and I don't know how to stop"
"My boyfriend is pressuring me to do something that makes me uncomfortable; I don't know what to do because I love him."
These kinds of situations can be a bit scary. You may feel helpless and overwhelmed with your friend and their problems. What can a teenager do to help another friend?
- Don't freak out if they tell you something serious, no matter how much it shocks or repulses you. Stay calm.
- Talk to your friend about your concerns. Be honest about why you're worrying. Be pleasant, but be firm.
- If your friend won't acknowledge they have a problem, don't push it. Don't get into an argument with them.
- Listen. Don't judge. Don't tell them they're being stupid or that their problem isn't a big deal.
- Learn about what's causing your friend to suffer. Whether it's an eating disorder, teen pregnancy, or dating abuse, a little education may help you understand their situation better.
- Build them up. Remind them that they are strong.
- Help them remember that there is hope.
- Make sure they know you'll be there for them. If they want to talk, let them talk. If they don't want to talk, be understanding of this too. Understand if they need some space.
- Keep them included. Ask them to go places with you. Even if they say no, keep asking without pressuring.
- If they say something about hurting themselves or someone else, share the details you know with a trusted adult. Tell the adult that your friend is struggling and you are worried about them.
One last thing…take care of yourself too. You can't control the choices your friends make, so focus on the things you can do to help. If you start noticing that you're becoming sad or stressed because of your friend, practice self-care and reach out for support.