How to: Support a Struggling friend

Writer: Marwan Mohammed

Most likely, you check in with your friends, nearly every day, and you know that just saying ‘3amel ehh’ won’t get you the real answer, especially, if they’re struggling. They might be going through a tough breakup or having problems with their parents. Whatever the struggle is, it’s important to be there for a friend who is going through one.

So, to start supporting your friend, you have to look for signs which show that your friend may be stressed. Many people get overwhelmed and anxious, it can be hard to tell if they‘re just dealing with every day stresses or struggling with a bigger problem. Your friend may need professional help to manage the stress or to help with bigger issues like depression or anxiety. However, being supportive and encouraging them to seek help can make a huge difference. 

To know if your friend is struggling, here are some things that you should look for:

If your friend is feeling too sad or too depressed to meet up with you, to study, to get out of the bed or to do anything they usually enjoy doing, that’s an obvious sign that your friend is having problems. You should also look out for them getting detached  from reality quite often and frequently getting overly angry. Look for changes in their habits and their daily routine that are out of the ordinary. All these signs mean that, most likely, this friend is struggling with a problem. You should start being there more often because making them feel better goes big time.

Now, you know that your friend is stressed and having problems, so how should you help them? The first thing is to remember that you are NOT A THERAPIST, so don’t go ahead and start trying to fix everything because you will probably take the wrong approach. If you are worried about a friend, what you can do is encourage them to talk to someone or get help. If your friend won’t talk to someone on their own, you have to tell a parent or your school counselor. 

It’s gonna be hard to start a conversation with a friend who is struggling. Just don’t give up on them and don’t forget to stay supportive. Don’t tell them how they should feel and don’t offer answers! Just let them know you are concerned and that you are there for them. Sometimes, people see asking for help as a sign of weakness, so try talking to your friend and start encouraging them to speak up, to get the stress off of their shoulders. 

Your friend may feel hopeless or like no one can understand their problems, so it’s important to make them see that you are not bothered by them talking to you about the struggles they are going through. And again, remember you are NOT A THERAPIST, so don’t offer answers as this might make everything ten times worse.