Health in mind


Within friends and family you will find tips and resources to help you if you are worried about or caring for someone close to you.

At least one in five adults in Northern Ireland will suffer from a common mental health problem in any year. 

Help and support provided by friends, family and carers can have a significant impact on recovery and long–term outcomes for the person cared for.

When someone is suffering from poor mental health they may not want to see their friends and family as much. 

This can make it difficult to maintain your friendship but if you can it can help the person that you care for to overcome poor mental health and the isolation that often comes with it.

How does mental ill health affect friendships? 


  • People with more severe forms of mental illness have smaller social networks than others and have more family members than friends in their social circle.
  • People with smaller social networks, with fewer intimate relationships, find it more difficult to manage social situations. 
  • People with mental health problems often anticipate rejection from other people because of the stigma associated with mental health. They may avoid social contact, as a form of ‘self–stigma’.


If your friend seems to be withdrawing from your friendship, try to understand what they may be going through. 

Their difficulties may only be temporary. If you can encourage them to tell you how they feel, if they need some space, let them know that they can contact you when they need to.

If the person that you are worried about has been feeling stressed, worried or low for sometime, it’s a good idea to encourage them to get support from their local doctor (GP), they will be able to help and also may put them in touch with other services.

Useful Links


Some of the signs to look out for if you are worried about someone close to you.

Caring for Someone

Some practical tips, useful links and recommended reading to help you care for someone close to you.


Contact CAUSE if you need help and support caring for someone suffering from mental illness.


Contact Aware if you need help and support caring for someone suffering from depression.


Recommended Reading 

Living with Mental Illness

Liz Kuipers and Paul Bebbington, 2005, ISBN 028563741X

A book for friends and relatives – explains what is happening and why.