By Syd Sukalski
Mental health is a tricky subject when it comes to your relationships with your friends and loved ones. These are some of the people who know you best in the world, and you may find yourself either wanting to lean on them or pushing them away when talking about your mental health. Maybe you’re avoiding a trip to see a licensed counselor because your friends are so supportive and want you to talk to them. Or maybe, you’re worried about putting too much on your friends and don’t know what kind of boundaries will keep your friendships healthy.
We’ll talk about how mental health can impact your relationships with your friends, how to talk to your friends about your mental health, and what boundaries you should set.
But first, let us introduce ourselves.
New Perspective Therapeutic Services uses successful, proven therapeutic approaches to help you improve your mental health and achieve the results you need. We provide several therapeutic services, including, but not limited to, crisis Intervention, marriage therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and family counseling nearby. If you or your family are looking for compassionate, trustworthy mental health professionals to help you on your journey, New Perspective Therapeutic Services is here to help. Visit our website and find a therapist near you.
Now, let’s talk about mental health and friendships.
How Can Mental Health Affect Friendships?
If you have a mental illness like anxiety or depression, you may find that it has become your instinct to push your friends away, to avoid or even hide from them. But the odds are your friends are worried about you and want to help you, and consciously deciding to let them in can be a powerfully healing choice. Your relationships with your friends can help you overcome some of the isolation you might feel because of your mental health. Allowing your friends to support you may help you forge some of the strongest bonds in your life.
Mental Health Communication with Friends
You might be worried about broaching the subject of mental health with your friends but remember. You don’t have to tell them if you don’t want to. However, you might have one or even a few friends that you feel comfortable talking to about your mental health, and maybe you want them to know that you’re seeing a counselor or just that you’re struggling. Telling your friends may help them understand better where you’re coming from if you find yourself pushing them away. It might also help you feel supported and cared for in a way that might surprise you.
Opening that conversation can be difficult, but it can certainly benefit everyone involved. Find a place where you feel comfortable, and think about how you want to begin. Maybe you even feel more comfortable writing things down and simply giving them a handwritten letter. You might also find it advantageous to prepare yourself for different possible reactions, just in case they react badly. Sometimes, people don’t know how to respond in these situations, but this can be because your friend is just concerned for you, or maybe you’ve accidentally struck a nerve and made them think about something in their own life. If you don’t get the ideal response, it’s okay. Just give your friend some time. They care about you and will want to know you’re getting help.
Healthy Friendships and Mental Health
It can be hard to maintain healthy friendships while dealing with a mental illness because you may want to push your friends away. Communicating with your friends can be a great way to help them understand why this is happening and prevent them from being hurt by it. You may also be concerned that, by allowing your friends to support you, you will become too dependent on them, and they will cross the line from friends to caregivers.
Talking to your friends about your specific problem can be a great idea, as it will help them understand where you’re coming from and how to support you, but try not to overwhelm them or lean on them too heavily. Friends can be an excellent support system that can help you heal, but your friends are not likely licensed therapists. Make sure you know where the line is between friend and therapist. Try to cultivate a healthy friendship. Communication is key to helping them understand and support you, but leave the job of a counselor for your therapist.
Establishing Boundaries Between Friends
Your friend may wonder how much support you need from them. Maybe you don’t know yourself. A great way to establish what’s okay and what isn’t is to talk about it. Your friend may have boundaries they want to set as well. And boundaries don’t mean you’re rejecting someone or that they’re rejecting you. It means that you agree to be realistic about how you can help and support each other.
Outgrowing Friendships and Mental Health
You may find it challenging to maintain friendships while struggling with your mental health. You might not feel as comfortable with some of your friends as you used to, and that’s okay. Outgrowing friendships is natural. It’s just important that you find what’s best for you, and if your friends present a loving support system, a little communication can be extremely beneficial for all of you.
For more ideas on how to show kindness, find support at New Perspectives Therapeutic Service. We offer on-demand therapy with Crisis Intervention and want to help you in any other way we can.
Nigeria McHellon, MSW, LCSW
Call or Text: (904) 439-6524