What is a good friend?
By Kristofer Lundeberg, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Sanpete Valley Hospital
Having a good friend is good for us in many ways. It can benefit us physically, socially, mentally, and spiritually. Having a friend that we can rely on and that can support us can help us through both the good times, and the difficult times in life. This goes both ways. Not only do they support us, but we support them. Good friends understand us differently than anyone else. We have many experiences together that allow us to build trust with each other. Sometimes that trust is stronger with friends than with family when we are young.
When we learn to trust our friends, we start telling them personal things that we want them to keep secret. Some secrets are good for a friendship. Younger kids will show their secret hiding place, what present they are going to get someone else, or what they have brought for show and tell at school. Older kids will share who their crush is, who they are going to ask out, or how they are not getting along with someone. These types of secrets can be important to a friendship. It can also help with maturity and growth as they learn to work out their own problems and how to rely on others.
In discussing the benefits of a secret, it is important to note that some secrets can have serious consequences. Sometimes a friend might ask us to keep a secret that is, or will be, causing harm to an individual. Those secrets should never be kept secret. When a friend tells us something that they plan to do or that someone is doing to them that could cause physical and/or emotional harm, we need to tell a responsible adult, such as a school counselor, teacher or parent, who can help. Some things that should be told to an adult are: thoughts of suicide, thoughts of self-harm (like cutting), alcohol use, illegal drug use, prescription drug abuse or thoughts of running away. Also we need to inform a responsible adult if a friend tells us that they are being abused, do not have food in the house, do not have heat in the house, or if someone is touching them inappropriately.
A good friend is going to make sure a friend is taken care of and safe. Instead of saying that we promise to keep a secret, we should say, “I will do everything in my power to make sure you are safe.” As parents of small children, we need to make sure we teach them when to keep a secret and when to tell a secret. Teenagers need to realize that there are some issues that only a trained professional can handle, and if we are a true friend we will get them the help that they need. There is help available. We do not need to feel as if we are alone, or have to carry the burden or fix the problem. There are people out there that can help manage these issues, and, in many cases, resolve them.
Here are a few more resources:
Life threatening Emergency: 911
Local Crisis Line: 877-469-2822
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
Sanpete Valley Hospital (General Information): 435-462-2441
Sanpete Valley Hospital Behavioral Health Services and Support Groups: 435-851-5206
This article was written by Kris Lundeberg, LCSW and a member of the Sanpete Behavioral Health Community Network. The Network is comprised of community members who try to find resources for Sanpete’s adult community for their mental health needs. The Network has focused on services and resources for people who are unfunded or under-insured with behavioral therapy, medication management, and pharmaceutical assistance for psychotropic medications. We have also created a committee called Sanpete CARES which stands for Child Adolescent Resources Enrichment and Services to help with new services for our Sanpete Child and Adolescent population. They are working closely with agencies and our school districts to make our community and schools safer. Over the next year, we will be sending out additional articles from other Sanpete Behavioral Health Community Network members. Next month’s article will focus on self-esteem. If you would like more information about services or how you can help, please call 435-851-5206.