The Difficulty of Supporting a Friends’ Mental Health
Friends are like our added family, and we want to support them through everything, no matter what they are facing. Their mental health is something that we should always be aware of so that when a friend is feeling down or facing a tough situation, we can step in and help them. But, while this good samaritan move will benefit them, sometimes it can impact your mental health, too. You need to be aware of the line between being a friend and a therapist, and make sure that you don’t begin to have negative thoughts.
Read on to learn more about how trying to nurture your friend’s mental health can damage your own if done improperly. We all want to support our friends, but with my advice as a therapist, you can do this correctly without sacrificing your own mental health.
Cause Us to Reflect on Our Issues
When we try to help support our friends through relationship issues or even mental health illnesses such as depression, we can often dig up some of our own deep-rooted problems, too.
Maybe there was an event that happened early on in your childhood that your subconscious has buried away or you have a family relationship that went bad which you’ve tried to forget about; either way, by talking to your friend about their struggles, you can open up your own wounds and start to remember things that you wanted to let go of a long time ago.
We can support our friends effectively without bringing up our issues, and it’s person-dependent on how much these conversations affect you. If your friend has gone through something similar to you, you might be triggered by them explaining their situation; especially if they start to feel or behave like you once did. On the other hand, you could overlook this or because you have made peace with your past, talking about these issues no longer affects you.
Inadvertently Feel Their Emotions
When we support a friend through their mental health issues, we might be subject to long, intimate conversations about how they feel. While this doesn’t sound like a terrifying prospect, and can be hugely beneficial for your friend, hearing about their emotions or mental health issues can have an impact on you.
As I mentioned before, every person is different, and some may be more susceptible to start feeling the same emotions as their friends; almost like they are syncing their emotions. This could happen because you sympathise for your friend or it could be because of the negative outlook that they have on life could impact your own thoughts and feelings on your own; leading to your own depression, self-confidence issues and body-image problems etc.
Impact Your Relationship With Them
We want to be there for our friends how’d we’d expect them to support us; we listen to them, provide advice and help them emotionally through their darkest stages. But, sometimes this is easier said than done and we can start to feel a shift in our relationship with them. Maybe you begin to feel uncomfortable or awkward about the topics discussed, and these feelings can make your encounters and conversations forced. You want to be there for your friend, but you should have boundaries about what you are willing to discuss with them without overstepping them.
Over time, you might subconsciously distance yourself from your friend in an attempt to avoid these conversations. As a result, you could damage or even lose a perfect relationship because you didn’t feel adequate enough to support them fully through what they are going through. Just remember, it’s ok to feel like that; instead, you can direct them to someone who can support them appropriately – a therapist.
Seek Help At Therapy
Instead of damaging our mental health trying to support our friends, we can recommend them to seek out the professional help that they deserve. With no formal education, degree or training in therapy, you might be falling short in your efforts to support your friends, through no fault of your own. But rather than feeling lost trying to help them alone, you can direct them to a therapist as a solution for them to talk about their emotions and behaviour. This allows you to take on the role of a friend again; being there to speak to them about the issues they are facing and how their therapy sessions go but not to the extent previously.
Also, if you have been impacted while trying to support a friend through resurfaced memories or feelings of anxiety or depression, then therapy can benefit you, too. You can speak to a therapist about your individual, unique emotions and thoughts to get to the root of the issue so that you can work from there.
Check out my website today if you want to learn more about how therapy can benefit you, no matter your situation. Situated in Warrington, I’m available to all clients in the North West area who are looking for a permanent, long-lasting solution to their detrimental mental health struggles.