"My friend has MEntal illness" was a 2006 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) campaign designed to combat the stigma associated with mental health. Many individuals who develop a mental illness do not seek assistance for fear of the stigmatization associated with having a mental illness. Even once friends or others know of a person's mental illness they still incorporate stigmas into their interactions with that person.
Sometimes friends do not know what to say or how to interact. That is why SAMHSA and iGetReal are pushing for cultural change through education. If you have a friend with a mental illness the best way to interact with them is with honestly and transparency. When you ask them how they are doing, ask with a true interest in how they are doing. You will not understand everything they are going through, and that is OK. The goal is to be open and listen. Hear what your friend is saying, be open to your friend. Allow your friend to open up to you about their mental illness. Provide them a friendship where they can tell you when things are not right.
If you are not sure what to do when your friend tells you that something is wrong try to call their doctor. If your friend does not have a doctor or you can not reach their doctor, a great option is to find help is through SAMHSA. You can reach them via phone at 800-662-HELP (4357) or online at http://samhsa.gov/treatment/index.aspx.
As a friend you could be the difference between help and helpless.