Overview

Friends can provide companionship and support. The connections you make through relationships, places, or activities, can build a safety net for your physical and mental health. The beauty of friendship is that it works both ways. Giving support to a friend can be as good for your mental health and wellbeing as receiving it.

When you know that a friend will listen to your problems and accept you just as you are, it can make you feel stronger and more grounded. Talking things through, reflecting, expressing your feelings and emotions with a friend can help you work through what is troubling you. Sitting with a friend and sharing your thoughts can be a great release.

Eating well, going for a walk, chatting, watching a movie, and doing the activities you normally enjoy are all examples of activities you can do with friends. Just taking time to spend with friends lets them know you care, and helps you understand what they are dealing with.

You may thrive on having many friends, or you may prefer being close to only one or two people. It may take some time to find what works for you, as everyone is different.

Friendships are dynamic; you can become closer or more distant with time. The tough part is that making new friends and keeping up with old ones can sometimes feel more difficult if you’re struggling with your mental health. If you feel comfortable, you could share your challenges and vulnerability with others. By giving a little of yourself, you encourage openness and give the other person permission to be open with you. You can then help support each other when things are tough for either of you.

Support for friends

Healthy friendships are extremely important for any person’s mental health and play a key role in helping us cope with life’s challenges. In fact, strong, healthy friendships can have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing.

Avoiding unhealthy friendships that are one-sided or exploitative can help protect your self-worth and mental health.

When someone is living with a mental illness, friends often provide support and comfort. Having someone around who is ready to listen in an open, accepting, and non-judgemental way can make all the difference. Spending time with your friend and providing a sense of belonging may be more helpful for them than you realise.

If you want to support a friend, but you're not sure where to start, take a look at our page on how to support someone. We also have pages on support for carers.

It's important to look after yourself and make healthy choices that can help you to feel good. There are ideas on keeping well on our meaningful life section on this website.

We also have resources below to help you get started.

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Page last updated 5th July 2021