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Why checking in on your friends' mental health is so important

Abbie talks about why asking ‘how have you been recently?’ is such a powerful question


Written by Abbie Somers and posted in opinion


This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact editor@spunout.ie.


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We all have bad days sometimes. That’s just how life is. Some of us have mostly good days, some of us have mostly bad days and some of us fall somewhere in the middle. For people in the middle, the days are simply that. Days. Not exceptionally good, but not terribly bad either.

With the advancements of technology and social media, reaching out for help has never been easier. We are constantly being shown different ways we can reach out for support, information and help, whether it’s through an app, a website, a phone number, or a counselling service. In school, we’re told that we can always request a meeting with a guidance counsellor to talk about what’s on our minds.

It’s not always easy to reach out. As someone who suffers from low mood and anxiety, reaching out is something I’ve always found really hard to do. The thought of being the person who has to bring up the topic of my mental health makes me feel queasy, and usually I would end up staying silent. It’s not that I don’t feel like I can trust anyone. I just find it hard to ask for the help I need, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Mental health check-ins

Reaching out is for help is scary, and it’s hard. A lot of the time, bringing it up for the first time is the most terrifying part of getting help. This is where mental health check-ins become a vital part of the process.

Checking in with a family member or a friend if they seem a little off could make all the difference. It might not seem like much asking someone ‘how have you been recently?’ but that question alone shows a person that they’re cared for. That they’re important. It’s a simple question and not at all time consuming. Asking someone about their mental health, and being the first person to broach the topic, could very well be the push that they need to reach out if they need to.

Stress of the Leaving Cert

This applies to anyone and everyone, but I’m particularly focusing on students who may be doing exams this year, such as the Leaving Cert. We can often forget how stressful these exams can be for others. Whether you’re not in 6th year yet, you’ve already finished secondary school, or you’re in 6th year right now, it can be very easy to overlook the impact of the exams on someone’s mental health.

There’s no doubt that if you ask anyone you know who’s in 6th year right now, that person will have at least one story of somebody in their year stressed out about the Leaving Cert. But that’s just one student out of every hundred or so that physically looks stressed and overworked. I’m sure that many other students in that person’s year are feeling the exact same way, they just don’t show obvious signs of it. Exam stress can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health.

Knowing who to turn to for support

If you have friends or family who are doing exams, they may be struggling in silence. Even if you’re not sure anything is wrong, reaching out to offer help to someone can help bridge the gap if they ever need to. It can help a person know that they have someone to turn to if they need support. Check in with your loved ones regularly. You might save them a great deal of pain by doing so.

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Published Feb­ru­ary 14th2020
Last updated Feb­ru­ary 26th2020
Tags opinion mental health support leaving cert stress anxiety
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