The question most people (friends) ask after I share my experience with depression is ‘How could I have helped?’.

Which is a good & valid question. There is no ‘right’ answer, because every experience is different. Some people need to talk, some people enjoy listening while some cases require professional help.

As a friend, you can help, and we need you. So if you are wondering how you can help, read on:

  1. Check on your friends

Call your friends regularly and ask them ‘How are you doing?’ and then ask for details. How is work? How is your love life? How is your progress on project XYZ? How are you taking care of yourself? How are you handling the stress?

And then pay attention to the answers. Very few people will come out and say ‘I am struggling’ but their answers might give you a clue, and you can step in before the situation escalates.

  1. Be a Friend

Easier said than done; friendship is investing your time. Call. Visit. Make them dinner. Give your friends your time and energy, it means so much more than anything else.

  1. Hold them Accountable

The first step to treating depression is admitting that you are sick, and getting help. In some cases, it’s as simple as small lifestyle changes and in other cases it requires medication and/or therapy. Once your friend starts working on getting better, hold them accountable. For example, if they promise to spend more time outdoors, plan your meet ups outdoors and follow

4.Validate them

Mental health, including depression messes with your head and your perception of self. Become a source of positivity and do it honestly. Highlight their positive trait and how they make ‘them’ better. For example, don’t say you are kind because you are always there for me; reframe it, your kindness is evident in how you treat yourself and allow yourself to make mistake in your pursuit of excellence…it is about THEM not you.

  1. Be Patient

Mental health requires patience from all quarters and especially from our closest friends. Listen. Be there, with no expectations or demands. Sit with your friends even when they are not ready to talk. Your patience is your greatest gift.

Now go love on your friends…

Love,

Njeri.