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Monday, November 17, 2008

Friendships are probably some of the most important relationships you will have in your life. Many of your favorite memories are likely to include times you have spent with friends. Friends are possibly the people who keep you sane (although they can sometimes drive you mad as well!).

Friendships can be hard work sometimes, especially when your good friend is going through a tough time or is just feeling down. Not knowing what to do, or what to say can be hard, frustrating, and emotionally challenging. However, just by thinking about what you can do to make them feel better, shows that you are a good friend. So how can you be there for a friend in need?

• Listen - Never underestimate the importance of listening. One of the important parts of listening is trying to understand the situation from your friend's point of view. If you aim to do this you'll find you'll ask the right sort of questions and they'll appreciate having someone who truly cares about how they feel.

From that point on you will probably feel more comfortable talking through possible solutions to your friend's situation with them, if they want to. Don't assume your friend wants advice - sometimes they may simply want someone to listen to what they're going through, and to work out what they're going to do themselves.

• Get the Facts - If your friend has a medical condition or mental illness, a good way to offer support would be for you to learn about what your friend has been diagnosed with. This simple action shows that you care and that you are not going to run away because your friend's situation has changed. This will let them know that you like them for who they are.

Another good step is seeing whether there are support groups in your local areas and suggest coming along with your friend.

• Give your Friend a Hug - A simple gesture such as a hug or a smile can show your friend that they are not alone and that you are there for them.

• Be Willing to Make a Tough Call - If you think a friend is displaying a serious risk to their personal safety, you may need to act without their consent. No matter how hard it can be or if you are worried about your friend's reaction, just remember it's because you care about them and you don't want them to be hurt.

Depending on the situation, you may need to seek outside help; whether it's a teacher, counsellor, Kids Help Line (1800 55 1800) or Lifeline (13 11 14), a family member or another adult.

• Let Your Friend Know you Care - You might want to write a letter or a poem addressed to your friend, showing how special they are to you and no matter how tough things get; that you will be there for them because that's the importance of friendship.

• Keep in Touch - If you can't physically be with your friend when in need; think about sending an email, chatting on MSN or a quick phone call or sms; to show that you are there for them.

• Check out Reach Out! - You may also find it helpful to look through some other Reach Out! fact sheets and stories, and show these to your friend. Stories on the site are inspiring and reinforce that your friend is not alone and that no matter how dark that tunnel looks there is light at the other end.

• Jump onto the Reach Out! Forums - It may be helpful for you and/or your friend to jump on the Reach Out! Online Community and to chat to other young people who have had similar experiences.


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