Witnessing a friend break down mentally is very difficult. Frequently, as a concerned friend you want to help but are not sure how. After all, one cannot control what another person does. However, you 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 you might be seeing that suggest you act:
Depression: Your friend is feeling so down that they are 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Loneliness: Your friend has largely withdrawn from contact with others.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 much energy your friend has. They seem 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. They might be hearing voices that no one else hears or seeing things that are not there. Sometimes, they 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.
- If your friend is talking about suicide or doing anything related to suicide, tell a responsible adult like a resident assistant, a parent, or the counseling center staff. IF it is URGENT, call!
- University Police – 410-455-5555
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK
- Counseling Center 410-455-2472 during office hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.)
- 911 – 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.
Learn more about mental health support at the following websites:
- Notice and Respond Friend 2 Friend version
- Healthy UMBC Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/healthyumbc/
- Counseling Center Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/UMBCCounseling/
- Active Minds: https://www.activeminds.org/
- The Jed Foundation: https://www.jedfoundation.org/
- NAMI: https://www.nami.org/