How to keep family/friend relationships strong

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year's theme is relationships. A good support system and strong relationships are key to good mental health, and this doesn’t have to come from a partner - friends and family are such a good support system, but as we get older we often don’t see them as much.

Whether you’ve gone to a different college to your school mates, have gone to uni in a totally different area of the country, or are just working full time and don’t see them as much as you used to, it’s good to keep those relationships strong.

Have a chat every week, even if it’s just catching up on WhatsApp

If you aim to have a quick chat just once a week with your closest friends and family you might be surprised by how much you have to talk about. It doesn't need to be actually visiting them (especially if you live far away), it can just be a phone call, text, Facetime or WhatsApp, but it will keep that relationship strong.

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When you get in a relationship, don’t forget about your friends

The start of a relationship is normally super exciting and because you want to spend every waking moment with that person, you might pay less attention to your friends. Obviously you’ll be spending less time with them, but make sure you introduce your S.O. to them and still keep in touch with them and see them as much as possible. You never know, your relationship may not last forever and you’ll want your friends to be there to help you through.

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Yes, your family may be annoying, but they’re your family - forgive them if they annoy you

Your mum might nag at you, your dad might lecture you and your uncle may be kinda weird, but they’re your family. They’ll have known you since you were a baby and watched you grow up, and should always be there for you. You might not have much in common with them, and you will argue (as all families do) but as long as it’s not something major they’ve said or done wrong, forgive them, in a few years you’ll look back and realise how stupid that argument really was!

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Try to do new things

Do new things with your friends and family. If you’re stuck in a rut of going round to theirs and having a brew, you might both get bored. Go out for a coffee or a meal, go for a walk, or do something plain weird. Just try to do something that you’ll both look forward to.

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Don’t be scared to make new friends

Once you’ve left school (or uni) it can be kind of hard to make new friends. But that isn’t to say you shouldn’t give it a go. Whether it’s a work colleague, someone from a gym class or a friend of a friend - have a chat with them, and if you get on, go for a coffee, watch the footy or do something fun with them. Just make sure it’s the right kind of friend - someone who will have your best interests at heart.

You can meet new friends at our local LGBT groups, Galaxy for 18s and under, and GayLife for men aged 18 and over.

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That said, it’s easy to reignite old relationships too

Not spoken to one of your old mates from high school in a couple of years? Yeah you like their new profile pic on Facebook but you haven’t actually SPOKEN to them in ages. Drop them a message! Once you’ve already laid the groundwork it’s so much easier to build on that than start fresh.

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#mentalhealth #relationships #friends #family