Supporting someone with a mental illness or suffering from poor mental health can be hard. It's challenging not to know what to say or how to help someone that you love and care about. By taking the steps of visiting this page, you are on the right track. At NAMI-UW, we are always here to talk to you and are always available at general member events or by appointment.
Generally, when approaching a sensitive topic such as mental illness -- don't be judgmental. It's important not to jump to conclusions or try to diagnose someone, especially with no training at all. Using "I statements" can be really helpful to get your concern across to your friend. An example of this is "I've noticed you're spending a lot of time alone lately and are missing classes." Once you make an "I statement", you can follow it up with a question about how they are feeling or how their life is going in general. Remember to also be respectful -- if your friend doesn't want to open up right then and there, give them time and space. The only exception to this is if your friend is in immediate danger to themselves or others. In which case, you can call 911 and request a CIT (crisis intervention team) officer to assist you. These officers are trained in how to deal with mental health crises and are an amazing resource we have here on campus.
If you took the time to read this, you are a great friend. You really care about someone and that says a lot about YOU. Feel free to check out the links and videos below if you need more help or inspiration.