If you’re between the ages of twelve and twenty-one, chances are you have a friend whose well-being you are worried about. And maybe you’ve thought about intervening.
Reaching out when concerned about a friend can be incredibly difficult. Our closest friends are those that we trust and confide in, and reaching out to an adult or professional without their knowledge can feel like a violation of that trust. So how do you know if it’s time to reach out if you’re concerned about a friend’s wellness? And who do you reach out to?
In most cases, the answer to the first question is within the question itself: if you’re even wondering whether it’s time to reach out, then yes, it’s time. When dealing with a friend’s health and well-being, it can seem like just reaching out for help will blow the whole situation out of proportion. In those cases, it doesn’t hurt to ask yourself questions about whether your friend is a risk-taker, acts impulsively, or can be unpredictable. If the answer to any of those is yes, then take it as further confirmation that it’s time to reach out. If the answers to those are no, then it may seem a little more complicated. But don’t fret—there’s still a basic protocol you can follow.
The unconditional rule of thumb is to reach out if your friend may be a threat to themselves or others. The severity of the situation may vary, but if you have any doubts then don’t be afraid to reach out. This could mean reaching out to a trusted teacher, parent, professional, or friend—a trusted adult is ideal. I’ve had to take this step before, and I will admit that it was incredibly difficult. It’s heartbreaking to feel as though you’re breaking a friend’s trust or ruining a friendship. But remember that by reaching out for help, you’re taking the responsible step and acting as an exemplary friend. And have confidence that in this case, the adult probably knows what’s best. It’s not always the most appealing choice, but by keeping your friend’s best interests in mind, you will have done the absolute most.