You can search for anything linked to emotional well-being in our handy A-Z guide.
Who we spend our time with can have a big impact on how we enjoy life, who we become and our emotional well-being.
For example, spending time with people who love us, make us laugh or who know us inside out and like us even though we have our faults helps us to feel happy, secure, feel good about who we are and to try new things, make mistakes and enjoy life.
Spending time with people who we can’t trust, who put us down, who try to talk us into doing things that we don’t want to, or who are not really that interested in doing the things friends do – like listening, understanding, and sticking with us through the hard times can make us feel awful about ourselves. We can feel lonely even when we are in a group of people. When people aren’t real friends it’s even hard to say what you think or feel because people may laugh or judge. Everyone deserves better than this.
Some people get lucky and find themselves surrounded by people they consider true friends but others find it hard to find the right people to connect with.
Remember having one or two people who really get you can be worth a thousand times more than a thousand Facebook friends. Friends who don’t value you, or who make you feel uncomfortable or bad about yourself are not friends at all.
We all want to belong and have friends, but looking for and waiting for the right ones brings its rewards.
Making new friends
If someone wants to make some new friends they might ask people they trust for some ideas, e.g. a teacher, youth worker, family member etc. They could also consider volunteering or joining a youth group as a way to meet new people and try something new.
Sometimes we have good friends but they don’t understand our situation. E.g. if a person has depression but none of their friends do. They can find themselves wishing they had friends who understood what was happening for them. There are lots of places where young people can connect with others who feel similar to them. You can see some of these groups here
Being a good friend
It can be really lonely and scary having any problem, or when we are feeling difficult emotions, and having a good friend can make the world of difference.
Here’s our top tips to being a good friend:
- Try to be patient, a person might not feel able to speak, know what to say or how to say it. They might also get nervous and change the topic, hang up or run away but if you give them another chance they might find a way to talk to you.
- Try not to judge the person or what is happening to them (if they feel judged they might close up and not speak to anyone else or it could make them feel worse)
- Help the person find information from a reliable source so you can both learn about the problem and what to do about it together.
- Ask the person what helps and what doesn’t (it’s not always obvious)
- Be as reliable as you can be
- Tell them you are glad they talked to you
- Try to put yourself in their shoes rather than telling them what you would do (they have different skills, feelings, experiences and people to you)
- If your friend asks for an opinion, be honest. But be as kind as you can about it.
- If you and your friend can’t fix the problem together support them to ask for help.
- Don’t forget your friend is still your friend and not just the problem they are facing. Try to talk about and do some of the things you usually do
- Ask for help yourself if you need it – it can be daunting and tiring being a friend to someone with a problem. You don’t have to break a confidence to ask for help for yourself – you could always call Childline for example where you don’t even have to give your name.
If you are worried about your friends mental health you can get info and support at Epic Friends
If you still have unanswered questions, you can go to a service in your area for information & advice: