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Mental Health from a Friend's Perspective

Mental health issues are something that we hear about more and more often. You might know someone that has these problems, or you may have them yourself. Even though we know about the problems, it sometimes can be very hard to know what to do as a friend.

Through the years I have had a lot of encounters with people who struggle with mental health. People have opened up to me about how they feel, even people I don't know very well, and some of my closest friends have been struggling with their mental health for many years. I have never had a problem with my own mental health, and often I feel lost and powerless trying to help the people I meet with these kinds of problems. 

Through talking to people I have understood that the reasons people struggle with these things come from entirely different circumstances and situations. Some of the people I met can trace it back to one certain event, or chain of events, and others doesn't know where it comes from at all. Often there are situations where I do not know what to do, and in my case I find it hard to know how to help someone if they don't show me that they want me to help. I've had friends who have gotten anxiety attacks, and I've just been standing there helpless not knowing what to do. 

There is one case in particular which I remember feeling especially  powerless. A friend of mine had been struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts for many years. It didn't take long from when we first got to know each other until he decided to share how he felt with me. I was glad he wanted to talk to me, and I tried to let him know that he could always reach out to me whenever he needed to. We talked a lot, and despite my best efforts I could not seem to make him feel better. After some time, I realised that he actually didn't want to get better. At least that is how it seemed. His thoughts had brought him so far down that he actually believed that he was a horrible person and that he did not deserve to be happy. This realisation shocked and saddened me. He was one of the kindest and most loving people I have ever met, and he thought he was a horrible human and that he did not deserve to live. 

Up until this point his parents hadn't realised how sad and depressed he was, but when his girlfriend eventually told them about him wanting to take his life, they made him go to the hospital. He got diagnosed and treated at the hospital for a while. Eventually he took a year out of school, and he and his girlfriend broke up. I haven't seen him that much lately, but a while back I sent him a message and asked how he was doing. He has gotten a new girlfriend and a job, and he seems happier than I have ever seen him. 

I don't believe that I was a part of him getting better. It seemed like nothing I did helped. I don't know if it was the meds he got, or the psychologist he talked to, or if it was the fact that he broke up with his girlfriend (their relationship was not healthy for either of them) that made him better, but I am quite sure it wasn't something I did. This means that I am still at a loss when it comes to helping my other friends. Still I don't know how to help them get better. Sometimes it's hard to believe that I can. Should I tell someone so they get sent to the hospital and get help? Maybe against their own will? Or should I just be as supportive as I can as a friend and listen to his or her needs? I don't know.

However, I do know one thing, and that is that this is a serious issue in today's society. There are far too many people who struggle with their mental health. Therefore I have decided that no matter who it is that decides to share their mental health issues with me, I will always talk to them. I will always listen, and I will always try to help the best I can. If you have the possibility, I encourage you to do the same.

Because no matter who they are, they are worth it. 

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