Helping My Friend With Her Depression And Cutting

Published: May 14, 2012
Dear TeenHealthFX,
Okay, so let's say my friend "Jess" has been having some problems lately. She feels left out, ridiculed, depressed, and she's told me she cuts herself. I'm very worried about her. I try to get her to talk to me or someone about it, but she's doesn't want to. Every time she tells me something, she makes me promise not to tell anyone. I do, but it's horrible for me to know I could see her one day and then never see her again. I really think she needs help, and usually I can help, but I've never had thoughts like that before or mutilated myself, so I've kinda been left in the dust on the help department. I know things will get better for "Jess," but I want to help as much as possible, so she doesn't have that pressure and neither do I.
Signed: Helping My Friend With Her Depression And Cutting

Dear Helping My Friend With Her Depression And Cutting,

 

Whether a person is dealing with a problem related to their physical health or their mental health, the love and support of family and friends is very valuable. However, in both cases that love and support is usually not enough, as treatment from trained professionals is also required to help that person get better. So while FX thinks that it is very admirable of you to want to be helpful to your friend, we can also understand that you are feeling under pressure and a little over your head in terms of helping her with her depression and self-cutting.

 

FX suggests that you start by talking to your friend about seeking help from a mental health professional. Let her know that just as someone would need to see a medical doctor if they thought they might have a physical health issue like diabetes, a person needs to see a mental health professional if they think they may have a mental illness, such as depression. Stress to your friend that it takes a professional to accurately diagnose a mental illness, as well as to provide effective treatment for it – and that since you are worried about her, and your guess is she is probably worried about herself, she needs to talk to her parents or some other trusted adult who can set up a consultation for her with a mental health professional. If your friend continues to resist, let her know that you will be telling a trusted adult about your concerns if she will not. Let your friend know that you care about her, are worried about her, and are not trained to give her the kind of help she needs right now – so, because you love her, you are going to do whatever you need to do to make sure she gets the help she needs. You could start by talking to your parents, her parents, or a counselor, psychologist or social worker at your school. Your friend may initially be angry with you, but hopefully with time and some help she will see that you acted out of love and with her best interest in mind.

 

If your friend lives in northern New Jersey and needs help finding a therapist she can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area she can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in her area.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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