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I think that your phrasing of 'someone you knew' is better than 'a friend' to consider how we should act when we see someone who is struggling. In the novel, Melinda has been rejected by her peers for 'spoiling' a party. Those aroud her ostracise her and appear to think that she 'deserves' to be isolated and shunned. Melinda's depression may have its basis in the rape, but the problems she experiences are exacerbated by the rejection she experiences for others.
I think a key message that the novel indicates is that we have to think about how we treat others around us. The progressive steps of listening, recommending counselling, etc need to be preceded by showing some humanity to others. Those we label 'geeks', 'weirdos' etc are people too. Everyone deserves respect and care. You may not be the right person to approach someone directly, but making a reliable person aware is an important choice we should make.
This is the exact paradigm that is forced upon the reader after reading about Melinda's plight in Anderson's work. The idea that everyone in the school knows that Melinda is depressed or distraught, and yet few, if anyone, does anything about it is where the fundamental call for change exists. The reader is forced to think about what exists in their setting to help avoid a predicament similar to Melinda. Anderson's work demands the need for addressing this situation on both institutional and individual levels. While individuals need to do their part in assisting others in terms of listening and offering non- judgmental support, there is also an implicit demand in the work for institutions to offer more to individuals in need. Better student outreach programs, as well as offering more in way of institutional help in order to reach every student or individual in an organization is of critical importance.
Be honest and kind. Be a good listener. Keep positive and hopeful. Do things together that are constructive, productive, meaningful, fun and up lifting and encourage that person to do the same when alone. Be ready to answer when he or she calls or texts or emails you.
Don't do drugs with that person, and don't involve yourself in negative conversations. And don't try to get into his or her head and give personal advice. Do, however, encourage your depressed friend to go to the school psychologist or seek out some other similar professional.
If nothing improves, and especially if the person seems to get worse, talk to the school psychologist or a teacher yourself. If you are a real friend, you cannot choose to ignore the problem, for your depressed friend may be using your friendship to avoid getting real help so you may have to take the first step.
First of all, I would offer a listening ear and my friendship. But this is definitely not enough.
I would strongly encourage them to seek professional assistance. Depression is a dangerous condition that can spoil one's quality of life and even lead to suicide. Fortunately, counseling and medications can usually make a big difference.
If the person you are thinking of is in high-school like yourself, you should encourage your friend to speak to a trusted teacher, or to go directly to the school nurse, social worker, guidance counselor, or psychologist.
Everyone, especially teenagers, gets into a bad mood once in while. Depression, however, is much more than just a bad mood. It can and must be treated!
I have worked as a counselor with teens as well as foster parented teens for many years. The first thing that I would do is to be a good a listener. I am used to assessing the level of depression so I would ask a series of questions.
When did you start feeling this way?
Have you ever thought about harming yourself?
If you thought about it how did you think that you would do it?
Has anything recently changed in your life?
Have you ever I am really concerned about a student and they are not getting past his/her feelings or if they are talking about suicide I recommend therapeutic intervention from a mental health specialist. If the child talks about hurting himself, it is always necessary to tell a responsible adult.
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