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Top 10 ways to support your friend’s mental and emotional well-being

With finals around the corner and COVID-19 persisting, now may be a great time to check in on those close to you

<p>With most of our screen time being taken up by Zoom calls and online exams, it can be a relief to receive a notification that is not school-related.&nbsp;</p>

With most of our screen time being taken up by Zoom calls and online exams, it can be a relief to receive a notification that is not school-related. 

1. Shoot them a text

Sometimes just a simple, “Hey, how are you?” can make a person feel better. A text lets people know that you care and that you are someone they can go to when they are not feeling their best. And with most of our screen time being taken up by Zoom calls and online exams, it can be a relief to receive a notification that is not school-related. Ask them about their day or see how their semester is going. This is a great way to start talking about how they’re feeling overall and if there is any way you can help them out. 

2. Send them a meme

Often, what your friends need is a little laughter or a distraction for the constant reminders of COVID-19. Social media has made it especially easy to send funny posts directly to your friends. You can message them a funny picture you know they’ll like or even a video of a cute animal on Instagram. This is a great way to start a conversation without feeling too awkward. Even if you just send your friends a meme, they will still know that you are thinking of them, and you can make their day with some humor.

3. Give them a call

While calls are not the most popular form of communication among college students, calling your friends is a great alternative to in-person interaction during the time of COVID-19. Sometimes just hearing a familiar voice could make you feel so much better, so try picking up the phone every once and a while. Even if they don’t pick up, you can leave them a nice voicemail letting them know you are thinking about them. 

4. Make them food

During the time of quarantine baking, I often have an excess amount of food lying around the kitchen. And you know what they say — the fastest way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. When you’re stressed or feeling down, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of relying solely on snacks or not eating anything altogether. Dropping off food at your friend’s place is a great opportunity to check in on them. If you do not wish to do it in person, you can use delivery services to get them a meal from their favorite restaurant. 

5. See if they want to hang out

Whether you are on your way to the dining hall or have some extra time to play video games, there are many opportunities to plan to spend time together. Eating lunch with someone or watching a movie over Discord can provide some semblance of normalcy and create opportunities to talk. You can even gather in a group of up to 75 people outdoors, giving the opportunity to have study sessions on the lawn or stick to a small group indoors. With almost one year of a pandemic under our belts, it’s easy for our default to be spending time alone and avoiding social interaction. Finding safe ways to interact with your friends can give them the opportunity to break that habit. 

6. Talk about how you are coping

There is still a huge stigma around mental health, even among college students and in a time where it is highly important. We don’t want to admit that we are feeling down or anxious about our future, so we may default to pretending everything is okay when someone checks in on us. From my experience, being open about how I’ve been feeling about the pandemic and the ways I’ve been dealing with it has helped to make my friends feel more comfortable talking about it as well. When you’re honest with your friends, they may also become more comfortable sharing similar feelings and thoughts they may be experiencing. 

7. See if they need help with anything

The pandemic has made things like buying groceries and finding a study spot much more difficult. One way to check in on how your friends are doing is to see if you can help them with anything. With finals coming up, you can offer to do a virtual or a socially distanced study session to help them ease their stress from school. There are other ways you can help out while checking in on them, such as getting them something they need from the grocery store or letting them borrow some kitchen supplies. 

8. Write them a heartfelt note

Receiving a handwritten letter from my friends has always meant the world to me. And with most of our communication happening over screens, it can be a relief to get something physical. I recommend that you also try writing your friends a note about how you care about them and are there to support them. You can mail the note or drop it off at their place. Either way, it gives them a physical reminder that there are people who care about them and that they have a support system they can rely on. 

9. Share resources with them

If you are worried that your friend may need more than just another person to talk to, sending them various resources for professional mental health is a great way to start. As college students, we have access to Silvercloud and Counseling and Psychological Services, which can both provide mental health help. If your friend does not feel comfortable talking to you, then they might want to talk to a professional. Send them information about resources such as The Women’s Center or support groups and see if they find it helpful. 

10. Let them know you’ll always be there for them

While this pandemic has made talking about mental health easier, it can still be hard for people to talk about their feelings to even their closest friends and family. Your friend may not want to talk, and that’s okay. You can let them know that if they ever need a listening ear or help during a rough time, they can reach out to you. 

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