You’ve noticed your friend isn’t coping and you have reached out. You have asked them how they are going and they have admitted that they are struggling and feel overwhelmed. Now you’re wondering what to do next. To help, we’ve compiled some advice on how you can help a friend not coping.
Taking a minute
Just asking someone how they are feeling can make a difference. It lets the person know that you care and are there to support them.
Make sure you listen to what they have to say. Make eye contact, don’t interrupt and listen without judging. By sharing their story, they may start to feel some relief and feel less isolated. You can say things like, “I can see this worries you.”
It’s better to ask questions than try to solve their problems. You can ask questions like “How long have you been feeling this way?” or “How is that affecting you?” or “How did that feel?”
Let the person know you are there for them and they don’t have to deal with the situation on their own. Ask them what support they need from you. You can say, “I may not know how you feel, but I am here to support you.” You can also ask if they have spoken to anyone else about the situation.
Seeking professional support
You aren’t a counsellor or a doctor, so you are not expected to have all of the answers. Encourage the person to seek professional help, especially if they have been struggling for a while. They can call a helpline like SuicideLine Victoria 1300 651 251, speak to their GP, see a psychologist or contact their employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). You can offer to help the person find support or make an appointment.
If the person is self-harming or talks about suicide, it is essential for them to get professional help. If you are worried about their safety, you should let someone else know. If they don’t want you to let anybody know, you can call SuicideLine Victoria and ask for advice on how to best support your friend.
Keeping in touch
It shouldn’t be a one-off conversation. Check in with your friend regularly to find out how they are doing and what support they need.
Looking after yourself
Hearing about your friend’s problems can affect you too. Make sure you do something you enjoy to relieve the stress.
If you or someone you know needs help, call one of our SuicideLine Victoria counsellors on 1300 651 251.
If it is an emergency, dial 000.