Witnessing a friend break down mentally is very difficult. Frequently, you as a concerned friend want to help but are not sure how. After all, one cannot control what another person does. But, one can make a real and important difference in increasing the chances that the person at risk gets the help he or she needs. A mental breakdown can take many forms.
Here are some things that you might be seeing that suggest you act:
- Depression - Your friend is feeling so down that he or she is clearly functioning very poorly, if at all.
- Loneliness - Your friend has largely withdrawn from contact with others.
- Ultra-high activity or agitation mixed in with periods of deep depression - Sometimes you can’t quite believe how high energy is your friend. He or she seems great until the crash. This up and down is a recurring pattern.
- Repetitive excessive drug or alcohol use.
- Frequent high anxiety - Seeing this much anxiety causes you alarm.
- Acting Strangely - Your friend leaves reality as most people know it. He or she might be hearing voices that no one else hears or seeing things that are not there. Sometimes, he or she may offer an elaborate (and ridiculous) theory which you know makes absolutely no sense.
- Talk of suicide or any actions related to harming oneself or others.
If you see any of the above OR other behaviors that have you worried, it is important to act now.
Here is what you can do:
- Tell your friend you are worried and want them to get professional help. If your friend will talk, your job is to listen. But always emphasize that getting professional help is needed. You might even offer to accompany them when they call or visit the mental health professional.
- If you friend is talking about suicide or doing anything related to suicide, tell a responsible adult like a resident advisor, a parent and/or the counseling center right away. Options for immediate assistance include:
- Taking your friend to the nearest emergency room
- Calling 911
- Calling Campus Security
- Calling the Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Phone: 1 (800) 273-TALK
- Texting HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor
- Stay with your friend until help arrives.
- Visit the Counseling Center to help you deal with your own stress and discuss the best ways to manage this situation.