Checking in with friends
Seeing those close to you struggling with their mental health is not a good feeling. You may notice they’re responding less to your text messages, or not being their usual self.
It can be hard to ‘check in’ sometimes when you’re not sure if the other person is wanting more privacy or to be left alone. Should you address this in person? Or as a text? What if you offend them? Or say something wrong?
I believe if you contemplate these things, you’re in a special position because it shows that you care in the first place. It’s important to show support and open availability when those close to you are exhibiting struggle. However, this isn’t as easy as it appears. It’s also important that your ‘check in’ actually counts and you are able to have a positive impact.
When I’ve noticed changes in behaviour, I try to send a message of support then try to plan a catch up. It’s not always easy especially when you’re not super close friends as you’re unsure if they already have a support network – but it doesn’t hurt to reach out! Sometimes it can be intimidating and hard for some people to talk openly about their struggles (I find this difficult). So, when I check in with friends, I would ideally want to encourage a casual and fun catch up so they don’t feel targeted or pressured to talk about their current mental health state.
However, I’m not an expert and it’s hard trying to properly check in with someone experiencing mental health difficulties. They may be in a place where they are unintentionally ignoring all communications with the world so you might not even have the opportunity to plan a catch up because you haven’t received a response to your initial message.
As part of Mental Health Month, Student Wellbeing are hosting an "Ask Anything" session in the Co-op for anyone wanting to ask questions about mental health or checking in. It's part of "A Space for Wellbeing" - find out more here.
It’s important that we check up on one another, but also invest in quality ‘check ins’ so that we can maximise our ability to support. It’s also important that we are in healthy mental health mindsets to be able to help others. When was the last time you checked in with yourself or a friend?