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How to help a friend struggling with anxiety
Resources: Personal Stories, For Myself, Video
Christy supports friends and families who are experiencing the impacts of an anxiety disorder.

She is also a keen climber, Anxiety New Zealand Helpline volunteer and is studying psychology. Filmed with kind support from the team at Vertical Adventures indoor climbing, Glen Eden. This video was made possible by the generous support of Milestone Foundation and creative inspiration from EdenArts Club. Chinese subtitles are available. 中文字幕可用.

Made possible by the generous support of Milestone Foundation, this four-part series showcases the journeys of people who have lived experience of anxiety, family and friends as supporters, education about anxiety and ideas on how to increase resilience and wellbeing.

Video transcript:

"Experiencing anxiety is very much like facing a new rock climbing wall. It can seem really daunting. You don't know what to expect. 

People often think that there is no way out and that no one can help them. But there's always a path through it. 

I always try to visualize the route that I'll take. 

In the early stage it's really difficult, because people who experience anxiety often keep things to themselves. They feel like they would be judged and people would look at them differently. But if a person doesn't seek help there is the chance that anxiety can get out of control. 

My name is Christy. I support my friends who are experiencing anxiety, and I work on the Anxiety New Zealand Helpline. 

I noticed that my friends started to withdraw in social situations. I approached them because I thought it was really concerning. I encouraged them to take a small step first. 

Once I managed to get them to reach out for support I continued to check in with them from time to time to see if they are receiving enough support, whether it is individual counselling or a peer support group. 

When my friends started to open up, they felt really relieved. 

I always remind them I will be there to support them. I support the families as well because a lot of the time they are also affected. They are dealing with a lot of stress as well. 

I was trained to work on the helpline at Anxiety New Zealand, and I knew more and more about different types of anxiety and how to deal with it, and supporting people with anxiety. I have these lived experiences and it is good to share it with a helpline callers. 

When I first take a call I do a little bit of exploration just to find out what the person is needing, whether it is getting resources or whether the person is currently experiencing a panic attack, and needing someone to talk to. I work out what techniques might help them at that time, whether it is a distraction technique or a breathing technique or even a muscle relaxation technique. 

Dealing with mental health is very much like climbing, it is crucial to have someone to support you. You need to trust your partner to be able to reach the top. 

Even if you do fall, you only fall a little bit because your partner is always down there to support you. There are times when you really want to give up but sometimes just telling them to hang in there helps a lot. 

I love climbing because it's really exciting. I recommended my friends to start some new hobbies when they are experiencing anxiety, because positive feelings would allow them to attract more positive things in their lives."