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Friendships enrich our lives in many ways. Healthy relationships provide emotional support, stability, and stress-reduction. In some ways, friendships can help support our mental health.

The Will to Live Foundation promotes healthy friendships in teens as an important aspect of suicide prevention. While the teenage years can be filled with adventure and positive new experiences, they can also be a time of difficult trials. The Will to Live Foundation believes some of the best relationships of our lives are formed during our teen years. Those relationships can make all the difference when facing both the good and the bad.

Teens report that a compliment from a friend means more than a compliment from an adult. In the same way, the Foundation believes that help and support from a friend may be the most effective way to ensure teens are able to fight through the difficult times.

“The kids of the Will To Live Foundation prove to us everyday that the greatest source of hope in our lives is through the love of a friend,” says John Trautwein, Co-Founder of the Will to Live Foundation. “We are dedicated to preventing teen suicide by improving the lives and the ‘Will To Live’ of teenagers everywhere through education about mental health and encouraging them to recognize the love and hope that exists in each other.”

When a friend is exhibiting signs of depression or mental illness, it is important to respond appropriately.

Some signs of depression to watch for in a friend:

  • lack of interest in things he or she used to enjoy like sports or band
  • trouble sleeping
  • trouble in school
  • appetite problems
  • headaches or stomach aches

If you notice these symptoms in a friend, you can help by acknowledging that their warning signs are serious and caring enough to talk to them about it. As a close friend, you are also in a good position to encourage treatment. Remember, someone will be more willing to talk about his or her problem and get the treatment he or she needs with your support and friendship.

Because friendships are such a crucial part of our health and happiness, it is important to maintain them. Sometimes our friends need our support, and other times we’re on the receiving end. Nurturing friendships through communication, respect, and empathy is crucial and can play an important role in our mental health.

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