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6 Ways to manage friends who offer mental health 'advice'

Stan Popovich is the author of “A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods”.For additional info go to:

These techniques really worked to get me through the tough conversations

I was fortunate: My family was understanding about my 20-year struggle with fear and anxiety. But some of my friends gave me a difficult time. I had a few friends who just didn't understand my issues. They'd give me advice that went against what my counselor told me to do, and this led to a few arguments. It was difficult explaining what I was going through to my friends, but eventually, I found a way.

1. Listen to the professionals and not your friends

Your friends may mean well, but when it comes down to it, the professionals know your situation more than anyone. They know what you are going through, and are trained to deal with your situation. Your friends do not have the expertise to treat your medical condition. When you have questions about your mental health, consult with your counselor or other mental health professional. Listen to them, and follow their advice.

2. Your goal is to get better

Don't waste your time arguing with friends or relatives who are giving you a difficult time. This isn't a public relations event, where you need to get everyone's approval. This is your life, and you're the one suffering. Getting better is the number-one thing.

3. Tell your friends to learn about your condition

The best way for your loved ones to help you is to learn about what you are going through. They could talk to a counselor, they could do family therapy, they could read some good books or join you at a support group to learn more about your situation. They will never know exactly the pain you're suffering, but they can gain some idea of what you are enduring.

4. Do not lose your patience

Give them a chance to come around regarding your situation. Don't be too quick to rush to judgment or start an argument. Remind your friends about how they can help you. If they continue to argue with you after you've given them time, then your best bet is to find someone else to be with.

5. Distance yourself from people who give you a hard time

This may seem cruel, but if some of your friends or relatives are hindering your progress, then kindly request that they go bother someone else. Distance yourself from those people who won't make an effort to understand what you are coping with. You need to surround yourself with positive and supportive people. If you have problems or issues with particular people, you can always ask your counselor for advice about how to deal with them.

6. Take advantage of the help that is available

If possible, talk to a professional who can help you manage your depression and anxieties. They will be able to provide you with additional advice and insights about dealing with your current problem. By talking to a professional, you'll be helping yourself in the long run, because you will become better able to deal with your problems in the future.

These strategies worked for me. I told myself that my goal was to get better, and that it was not my job to get everyone's approval. I got into the habit of hanging out with friends who did understand my mental health, and going to local support groups to find people who would be more supportive of my struggles. Remember that there are people out there who do understand what you are going through.

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