It can be hard to know how to help a friend who’s having a hard time with their mental health. Whether they’re in treatment or just figuring out a diagnosis, everyone has low points with their mental health, and it’s only natural to want to support them — to make them feel seen, heard, and appreciated. Fortunately, there are things you can provide that can be very helpful; while of course the best gift is your love and support, a physical object can also remind them of that support when you can’t literally be there.
Gifts can’t solve everything, and they can’t replace help like therapy or medication, but they can help promote self-care, which can be hard to accomplish for someone who isn’t feeling well. These gifts can be concrete reminders to a friend that you’re there for them, and after the low period has passed, they’ll serve as reminders of your friendship. Not everyone wants extra attention when they’re experiencing a low point in their mood, but if your friend would feel better for it, it doesn’t hurt to show them how much you care. And yes, gifts do include picking up the phone, sending a letter, making some tea, or just showing up and taking care of the pile of dishes in the sink. Here are eight gift ideas for a friend who’s having a hard time right now.
1. A Thoughtful Card
It can be tricky to find the right thing to say, but there are card series out there that will do it for you. Thoughtful Human has an entire section of cards particularly tailored to people suffering from mental health issues. Each of the cards is compostable and contains wildflower seeds. If you want, write a series for them to open at future bad times; a friend did this for me when I was having a depressive episode, and I still have a store to open whenever I’m sad.
2. A Flight Somewhere Cool
Want to contribute to a travel cure? Sometimes getting the heck out of dodge can help — or give a person with low mental health something to look forward to. Flight gift vouchers are an established part of many airlines, with everybody from Delta to Virgin Airlines offering cards for various minimum amounts, while services like Flight Gift Card allow you to contribute money to many international carriers and let your friend pick the destination.
3. Something Green And Easy
Being around greenery has been shown to help mood, so getting somebody who’s struggling a bit of greenery, particularly something low maintenance, can be a good way to boost their environment a bit. Most nurseries will have a collection of succulents, cactuses, and other plants that need relatively little care, but still give off a bit of color.
4. A Nostalgic Gift
Nostalgia gives us warm and fuzzies for a reason; connecting with positive memories of the past is a proven way to access positive feelings. Tap into that with something you know your pal used to love, even if they don’t really feel like it right now. Don’t pressure them to use it, but they may look at the picture, DVD or old collection of troll dolls and have a smile.
5. A Picnic Out In The Park
Time out in nature is proven to be a boost for mental health, thought it’s probably a good idea to wait for good weather. As the days get warmer, pack a picnic, get yourself a proper picnicking basket with cute squishies in it, and have a lunch somewhere with lots of greenery and exposure to sunshine.
6. A Way To Stay Mindful
A lot of good mindfulness guides are free. But if you want to give them something that will help them get into mindfulness practice, something that’s been proven to help mental health, something like the Mindfulness Journal or the Little Book Of Mindfulness can give them something to do without seeming too preachy about the benefits.
7. A Super-Stylish Organizer
If things feel out of control, it can be helpful to get some order, and somebody who’s struggling a bit under the weight of mental health issues may appreciate something cool to keep their headspace clear. Whether it’s a spices cabinet for their kitchen, a leather diary to keep their appointments, a fancy travel wallet, or a stationery organizer, give ’em something they might appreciate — and something to fill it, like cute pencils or bath salts.
8. An Indulgent Blanket
Sometimes all you want to do with your friend is snuggle up with them under a blanket with flashlight, and watch stupid YouTube videos of cats. Make it happen. Make sure you research if they’re allergic or sensitive to any materials first (you don’t want to get a wool blanket only to discover it makes them itch), then give them an investment piece and turn up with a bucket of popcorn and the newest Maru videos at the ready.