As a friend

Sticking around shows you care

Supporting a friend is not always easy. You have to find the right balance in your relationship with the person you care about. You may worry about pushing too hard, upsetting them, or making them want to be on their own even more. But by hanging in there, you can make a huge difference to their recovery.

How you can help

It can be tough knowing what to do when you have a friend who you think may be experiencing depression or anxiety. You want to help, but you don’t want them to take offence or get angry or pull away.

If your friend needs help to actually do something about how they’re feeling, gently encourage them to act. Suggest they talk (kōrero) to their whānau, doctor or helpline. You could help by finding someone or offering to go along with them. And if the first person doesn’t work out – which is quite common – then help them try another.

Try to keep an open conversation with your friend and encourage them to develop other supports and strategies. You might feel honoured that your friend has opened up and is seeking your support (tautoko). However, it can be difficult if you’re unable to provide the support (tautoko) they seek. It’s really important to encourage the person to seek treatment and tautoko elsewhere as well as from you, for example, from other friends, their whānau and/or support groups.

There are times you may need to kōrero with someone else if they won't. This is especially important if they have talked about harming themselves or dying. Talk with someone else in their life or call the Depression Helpline 0800 111 757. Don't keep a secret like this, even if they asked you to. See the next tile for information about getting immediate help.

Do you need immediate help?

Please take any thoughts (whakaaro) around suicide or self-harm seriously – and it’s okay to talk (kōrero) about it. Don’t leave someone alone if they say they feel unsafe.

If you think someone is having thoughts about hurting or killing themselves urgent help is needed. Emergency teams (called CATT or PES) provide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week assessment and short-term treatment services for people experiencing a serious mental health crisis. This could include safety issues. Contact your local Mental Health Services immediately.

Keeping secrets when it comes to suicide and self-harm can be unhelpful to both you and the person. Talk with someone else or call a helpline to discuss your concerns.

Always ask permission to contact services on a person’s behalf however if you feel they are in immediate danger and they won’t give permission you may need to go against their wishes.

If you think you need specialist advice on how to help, call the Depression Helpline 0800 111 757 or contact your local Mental Health Services.


What next?

Take a good look around the rest of this website to understand more about depression and anxiety and what can help. Check out the videos of people who share their stories and how they got through.

Other people's stories

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