How to Help a Friend

How to Help a Friend

What are the signs that your friend needs help?

  • Depression or apathy that interferes with obligations or socializing
  • Lack of coping skills for day-to-day problems or extreme reactions to certain situations
  • Extreme highs of rushed thoughts, bursts of energy, sleeplessness, compulsive behavior
  • Severe anxiety or stress
  • Constant feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Increased alcohol or drug use

This could look like a friend becoming very secretive, "dropping off the face of the earth", or acting unusually. Try talking to them to see if something is going on.

How do you help?

Be supportive and encourage them to seek help from family, friends, or professionals


  • Cover up their missed obligations
  • Participate in destructive behaviors with them (like drinking)
  • Back down about seeking help
  • Feel like you are betraying them

Take care of your own mental health as well, do not feel totally responsible for theirs. You could do help by letting them know that…

We all go through tough times, it will get better, and asking for help is NORMAL!

How do you talk to a friend in distress?

Follow the steps of Q.P.R. in a comfortable, private environment.


  • Let them know that you are paying attention to them… "How are you? You have seemed really unhappy lately? Tell me what is going on…"
  • Then… LISTEN! Validate their feelings and let them know you care.
  • If he seems suicidal in any way…Ask point blank if he wishes he were dead, is he suicidal
  • Asking doesn't make it more likely to happen!


  • Get the person to seek help
  • What does he or she think might help?
  • Offer resources
  • Reassure him that you will be there for him when he seeks help


  • Refer them to resources you know about and offer to go with them
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