Health and Disability

Topics in this section

Emotional Issues

Friends and colleagues can become emotional while at tertiary institutions, work or at social events. Often the emotionality may seem directed at you, but remember being emotional usually reflects some underlying distress. The cause of the distress may be known to the person, but it may not. It is not your responsibility to solve the problem or to be their therapist. As a friend you need to be able to listen carefully, with your full attention, allowing the friend to express their feelings. Maintaining a stable view of the world and continuing to take part in the activities of life are important roles which will help your friend in need.

The main difficulty for you will be to recognise when there is a significant underlying medical or psychological condition. Even the experts have trouble sorting these out so if you have concerns about suicide (refer to the section on Suicide for further tips) or the persistence and depth of distress, then consider helping the person seek help from a professional such as a counsellor, a health service, general practitioner, or emergency department (for acute suicide risk).

Most emotional issues however are transient and reflect life events. “Staying with” the friend while they sort out the issues is the best a friend can do.