Skip to main content home

Supporting someone

If someone close to you is not their usual self, it's okay to reach out to them.

Listening and talking with someone can help them feel reassured that they’re not alone and that they don't need to have all of the answers.

Friends bumping fists

Supporting someone through tough times can be one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences in life. You don't need to be a mental health expert. Just being your authentic self can a difference. It's normal to feel uncertain about how to start, what to say or what to do. This page is here to help you.

“We know when our wairua is being nurtured by people if they listen to us, it upholds our mana, which also strengthens our wairua.” – Matua Tau Huirama
Starting the conversation

If you're concerned about someone, it's okay to reach out to them. Tough times can catch us by surprise, and the person might not realise their own changes. They may feel like no one has noticed, so your observation can be a sign of care.

Starting this conversation can be scary. You might question your place in their life or think others are better placed to help. Remember, there's no rulebook on who can offer support. Your simple act of acknowledgement and concern can be the motivation for them to seek help.

“When people asked how I was, I said I was ‘fine’. I didn’t really know how to explain the darkness I felt, or the numb ache of being alive. I became convinced those feelings had always been there. I only really accepted that something was wrong, and I was allowed to ask for help after heaps of people in my life reached in to me.” – Manisha
What if we don't talk about stuff like this?

Talking about mental health can be hard. If it doesn't feel right, there are other ways to show support. Your goal is to let them know you see them, care for them and are there for them through actions and words.

There are no perfect words but many good ones

Here are some conversation starters we've found can help:

“How are you? No, really, how are you?”

“Are you free this weekend? It'd be great to catch up.”

Ka ora pea au i a koe, ka ora koe i a au.

Perhaps I will survive because of you, and you will survive because of me.

“I’m here if you need to vent. I will be here whenever you’re ready to talk.”

“I’ve noticed you’re not as social and I am a bit worried. Can we talk about it?”

Tohaina ō painga ki te ao.

Share your life experiences with the world. It eases the load and helps others.

“You mean a lot to me, and I’m worried about you. You don’t seem like yourself lately. What’s going on?”

“I feel like something’s changed in you. Your light isn’t shining as brightly. Do you want to talk about it?”

Building your relationship

“It means being there. It means listening. It means being present.” – Dr Evangelene Daniela-Wong

Distress can feel lonely. Sometimes just being there is the most significant support you can offer. Do things you both enjoy like cooking, walking or sharing music. Be flexible and understanding if they're not up for certain activities, and find simple ways to be present in their life.

As you suggest things, you might find that some of the ideas might be too much for them right now. Tough times can be exhausting, and things that used to be easy become much harder. When this happens, here are some things to try:

  • Continue inviting them to things. Let them know that they’re always welcome, and that even though you’d love to have them there, it’s not a problem when they can’t come.
  • Try to do other things to meet them where they’re at. This could be as simple as dropping off some food and sitting with them for a bit.
Supporting someone to seek help

Encourage the person you're supporting to think of other people who can help. Help them connect or reconnect to other people, and offer to join them at appointments. This could include friends, family, colleagues and health professionals. Our people who can help page offers insights on building this network. Remember, it's okay to step back and let others step in.

Looking after yourself

Supporting someone is a journey with ups and downs. It's tough to see a loved one hurting, and it's important to acknowledge that we can't fix everything. All we can do is walk alongside them as they find their own way through. You don’t have to have the answers. Just being there and listening without judgement is enough.

If you’re finding it difficult or overwhelming to show up for the person you care about, seek help. Reach out to friends and family, do things that make you feel good and consider calling a helpline to talk through what you’re experiencing. You deserve support too.

Take the next step

Get help
Call or text 1737, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Get help now
People who can help
Start the conversation.
Learn more
Types of treatment
Explore your options.
Learn more