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Teen Talk

June 23, 2012

A Word of Advice: Be supportive of friends in need

Once in a while you come across someone who is going through a rough patch. Maybe your best friend, boyfriend or even just an acquaintance seems a little off than how you remember. No matter what the reason is, you can help that person find the positive in that situation.

If you think that this person isn't open to telling you her problem, perhaps if you share something that you went through first, she will feel more comfortable. Talk about how you felt and how you dealt with that situation and maybe then she will feel more open to talk to you about what she is going through.

Depression and eating disorders can lead to worse things if not caught and dealt with early on. When you try to approach whoever, make sure you are in a comfortable, private place. Make sure you talk in a calm, nonjudgmental tone so she knows that she is in a safe environment. Before confronting your friend, outline what you are going to say. Make sure you are not going at her in a negative way and keep it positive as much as possible.

The tone you use during the conversation is very crucial. If you come off as angry or annoyed, your friend will likely just deny the problem or become angry at you.

Make sure your tone is supportive and caring. In no way should you come off as judgmental; instead, make sure she knows you are not there to judge, but to help and support her. Remind your friend of why you are concerned _ not because you like bringing up her negatives but because she needs help before it gets out of hand.

Encourage your friend to seek help and mention that you are willing to go with her for emotional support.

Keep in mind that not everything goes as planned, so if she denies she has any sort of problem, be prepared. If she seems angry that you are confronting her, make sure not to get upset or give up. If all else fails, you may need to talk to someone else about the problem _ her sibling, parents, teacher or any other type of responsible adult.

It can become frustrating when the person you are trying to help doesn't want to or allow you to help. You can't make someone want to change her actions.

However, by talking to her and voicing your concern you're providing support, encouragement and letting her know she has you to come to if she needs support.

Other problems such as someone being bullied or someone bullying other people should be attended to as well. One may be embarrassed if he is being bullied, so be aware of that. Never try to stand up to the bully yourself and if you need to tell an adult or teacher, do so before severe abuse occurs.

Your friend may think you are trying to upset him or "tattle" on him. However, always remember that you are trying to do what is right for him and his health. If you see possible signs of any type of depression or eating disorder and are not sure what to do, there are multiple websites or hot lines you can go to.

The Daily Star lists support group meetings each day.

If you ever have a doubt or are worried about someone you know, chances are that you may be right. Always go with your gut instinct and don't delay while it gets worse. Whoever you help may thank you in the end. Be the friend who's willing to go out of the way to help another friend.

Melissa Flathmann, a 2011 graduate of Oneonta High School, is a freshman at the State University College at Plattsburgh. Would you like A Word of Advice from her? Send her an email at melissa_flath@yahoo.com or send her a letter to "Teen Talk: A Word of Advice," C/O The Daily Star, P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820. 'Teen Talk' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/teentalk.

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