Let’s be honest, men don’t talk openly as much as we should. Fair enough, some of us don’t feel the need to speak as much as others but there’s no doubt men need to be more honest with their mates. Perhaps it’s because we feel like it makes us appear weak or less manly for doing so. In reality, there’s nothing stronger than being able to open up. There might be a time when a mate of yours asks you for a chat so we put together a list of things you can do to make sure you’re doing the best thing a friend can.
1) THINK ABOUT THE SPACE
Chances are your friend will have come to you in a place that they feel comfortable. They might bring it up while you’re on a run together or playing video games, but respect that that’s where they feel ready enough to talk about it. If they start the conversation over social media, try not to suggest meeting up instead because they may feel more comfortable online than face to face. The important part is that they’re telling you.
It will seem obvious, but this is the most important part of all. The difference between hearing what they have to say and listening is huge. Your buddy will feel a whole lot better if they know you’ve shown full concern for their wellbeing and given attention to the information they have trusted you with.
3) TRY NOT TO JUDGE
It can be hard to find out that your friend isn’t feeling great. Avoid passing judgement on what you think may be their condition or labelling them with an illness that you may have read about. They’ll be feeling fear and confusion towards the feelings they’re experiencing so the last thing they need is a scary name to put on it.
4) THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK
Take your time to take in what they’ve just said. It meant a lot to them and probably took some guts to open up to you. Think about what you want to say and what you can do to help; because that’s all they want. Revealing this to you means you’re clearly someone they trust and they believe you can help them.
5) TRY NOT TO LECTURE
It can be hard when all you want is the best for your mate. You want them back to their best and to be having a good time; no one likes seeing a bro down and out. But make sure you’re giving them the time they need and not trying to tell them all the things they can do to ‘get better’. All they need you to do is support them and keep being their best mate.
6) REASSURE THEM
It can be especially hard for us guys to talk openly to do it so if one of your mates decides to open up and normalise the conversation about men’s mental health, then let him know that no matter what, you’ll be there for them. You’re best mates before this and you’ll be best mates after. He would do the same for you.
7) DON’T PRESSURE
Try not to put any pressure on them ‘getting better’. It’s a real positive and a huge step forward now the subject has been mentioned and they’ve acknowledged that they’re struggling a bit more than they’d like. Recovery and rehabilitation takes time. Remember that they’re in a better position than they were by just having someone listen to them.
8) CHECK-IN WITH THEM ONCE IN A WHILE
Now it’s in the open, you can look with your mate as to the best path they want to take to improve their health. It’s a hugely daunting prospect for someone struggling with their mental health to have to think about these intense and personal situations. Check in with them from time to time to see how they are getting on and if they need to speak again that you are here for them. If they say it’s OK, you could try researching some extra help for them to take when they are ready like support services in your area.
If you’re worried about one of your mates and want to speak to someone about it, you can join our community here.