Friends and family

Friends and family

Find out how friends and family can help you stay mentally healthy, and get tips on managing changes like divorce or separation

How friends and family can help

You might feel like they won't understand, but friends and family can surprise you. You would probably want to help people you love if they were struggling, so why wouldn't they feel the same about you?

Some of the ways they can help:

  • Spend time with you. Too much time on your own can make you feel worse. Just being around others is a simple way to feel more connected.
  • Talking things through. If you are stressed or feeling low, they can provide emotional support.
  • Notice changes in your mood. People who know you well will probably recognise when you are not feeling your best.
  • Give practical support. Friends can do things like coming with you to a party you feel nervous about or helping you plan a route to get there.
  • Join in with CBT. Cognitive behavioural therapy sometimes introduces coping strategies. Your friends and family can help you to come up with strategy ideas and support you with therapy homework.

How to open up to someone

Choosing to talk to someone about mental health problems is brave. And it's worth it, because it's the first step to feeling better. The best person might be someone who:

  • you trust
  • is easy to talk to
  • is kind
  • doesn't judge
  • is a good listener
  • you know well
  • has been through similar issues

5 tips for talking things through

  1. Pick a good time when neither of you is busy or distracted.
  2. Choose somewhere quiet where you won't be interrupted
  3. Explain how you are feeling and what's worrying you
  4. Ask for advice and support. Be clear about what they can do to help, like coming with you to the doctors, giving you space, or spending more time with you.
  5. Be clear about confidentiality. If you don't want them to share what you've told them, say so. 

If you feel you don’t have anybody to talk to, you could join an online forum where people are experiencing similar situations to you, or contact a confidential service like Childline or the Samaritans.

Coping with family changes

Divorce, separation and other family changes can mean losing the home, school and friends you are used to, as well as seeing less of one or more family members.

Many children deal with these experiences, and there's support available to get you through it.

You might feel sad, guilty, angry or abandoned, or start having nightmares, needing more attention or 'acting up'.

Remember, it's not your fault and it doesn't affect how much your family loves you. It's OK to miss a parent who has left, and to ask for support from someone you trust, like a friend, teacher or counsellor.

You can also contact Childline by phone, online chat or email.

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