My friend is upset, what can I do?

Speaker: Ms. Fanice Yung, Clinical Psychologist of Student Health Service, Department of Health

My friend is upset, what can I do?

Most unhappy people look like they don’t want to talk or appear irritable which makes them seem unapproachable.

But this is exactly when they need people to care for them.

If you notice that they show signs of suicide, such as hurting themselves or leaving their last words, then we must show our concern immediately.

We could say, “What is upsetting you? You can talk to me. It can be a relief to get things off your chest.”

At this moment, our empathic listening and genuine care for them are vital.

Then you may offer to seek help with them together.

If your friends are being indifferent towards your concern, you don’t have to force them to speak.

You may say that you will be there for them, or “whenever you want to talk, I’ll be here. Talk to me when you feel like it.”

To help people who are unhappy, we have to avoid trivialising their feelings.

Do not say, for example, “It is not really that big of a deal, don't be so upset.”

We should avoid minimising their emotional reaction by saying, for example, ”people were just joking, letting such little things upset you. You’re just too thin-skinned!”

We should say things that make them feel hopeful and let them know that there are people who support and care about them.

For example, we can tell them, “Although we may not have an immediate solution to the problem right now, I will be here for you. We can solve the problem together step by step.”