Misconceptions about mental illness
AMINA IDOUI/ Staff Writer
When the times get tough, it can be tempting to shut yourself off from others and try to handle problems on your own. Your friends are here for you, though, and likewise, we should be here to support our friends through their struggles. But when your friend is dealing with a mental illness, how do you help? What can you do?
It all depends on being open-minded and accepting. Most importantly, it is to be an ally for them.
Stand up for your friend, and understand that depending on which condition they have, their condition may speak for them, causing them to say things and do things they may not really mean.
Communication is just as important. Ask your friend how they really want to be treated. Be willing to listen to them, and educate yourself about their mental illness. Each one affects people in different ways, so using the internet or just asking your friend about it will help you be a better ally to them.
“If you have someone who is bipolar, I’d want you to treat them differently than someone who has anxiety,” Traci Barker-Ball says.
One of the worst things you can do for your friend is to not validate them, or to disregard them.
“It’s not just for seeking attention, it’s for seeking help,” school psychologist Joan Shin says.
“[Their support] is a nice balance between knowing they’re there and I can go to them if they aren’t,” a Poway High School student with anxiety said.
Ultimately, the best strategy for supporting your peers is to be very empathetic. You may not understand exactly what they are dealing with, but you can be supportive by being willing to listen and by standing up for those who need to.
Art by: Jonathan Ballesteroby