What should you do if a friend approaches you about a particular problem and you aren't sure how to respond? Better yet, how can you best support them if they don't want you sharing their secrets? Here are some tips to consider.
Listen Closely and Openly
Be there for your friend and let them know that you won't judge them. If they tell you a secret, thank them for their vulnerability. You can use validating statements like:
- I am sorry you are experiencing this right now.
- I can see how difficult this must be for you.
- I completely believe in you.
- I'm proud of you for talking about this.
Encourage Them to Talk to a Trusted Adult
It's important to support your friend, but the power of a good friendship isn't enough to combat serious mental health symptoms. Instead, work together to help them find an adult.
If they don't feel comfortable sharing their thoughts with their parents, ask about other relatives, favorite teachers, coaches, or school counselors.
You can suggest they write down their symptoms or thoughts if they feel nervous beforehand. Let them know you will accompany them if it helps them feel more comfortable.
Talk to an Adult Yourself
Even if you promised, do not hold on to a friend's mental health secret. It's normal to feel afraid of them getting upset with you, but remind yourself those those emotions are temporary. In the long run, people teen to feel grateful they have their friend's support.