When you’re having a hard time, your closest friends can be rocks to hold on to. They are probably the first you’ll call when you need to talk, cry or vent negative feelings.

Anyone who has suffered from depression knows that friendship can really save a life: Imagine your best friend was the victim and you are the only one who can tell something is wrong?

If you want to be a gallant and genuine friend to someone who is suffering from depression, here are some tips on how to.
1. Break the ice

Acknowledge the elephant in the room, even if it seems embarrassing, because avoiding a problem does anything but magnify it. Think first of a few questions but do not turn the chat into an interrogation; instead, present it as an opportunity to have an open conversation on the topic.

“How can I help you?” is perhaps the best thing you can ask     them.

2. Do a little research

If you are reading this article, you probably already know such a person. (And you’re in the right place!) Helping a friend means really understanding what they feel every single day.  A good way to get started would be looking at the Ministry of Health website, talk to a psychologist or contact helplines or support networks that deal specifically with mental health like My Mind My Funk, Basic Needs, Amazing Minds Africa, Nzumari Africa or Mental 360 here in Kenya.

3. Take it outdoors

Fresh air does not cure everything, but brings a little light, energy and sometimes new perspectives on a situation. If your friend spends too much time indoors, try to get him out of the bubble in which he has taken refuge. Do not take it to overcrowded places, but in peaceful places like a park in the middle of the green.

4.Do not let it go

Keeping in touch with a friend who is having a difficult time is very important. Precisely because he is in that situation, he could be led to think that he is alone and misunderstood. Even if they seem to brush you off at first, make an effort to show that you are close to them.

5.But do not overdo it

As we said in the previous point, in bad times we tend to isolate ourselves and put a certain distance with the rest of the world. Even if it is important to keep in touch, it is also essential to respect the space of others. Do not take it personally if your friend tells you that he does not want to see you and does not treat it differently than you did before.

6. It’s not going to be easy.

Not to discourage you, but it will not be a walk in the proverbial park. fixing a mental health problem. It does not work like this. You are not a therapist but hey this is your best friend and your job is to listen to them, support them and be patient.

7. Encourage them to ask for help

Remember that even if society still tends to minimize, depression and anxiety are very serious things. Suggest to your friend to seek professional help and offer to accompany him to make him feel at ease. Stay strong.

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