Step One: Check in with your friend
If you’re worried about a friend’s mood, the best thing that you can do is encourage them to talk about it. Here are some tips on what to say and what not to say to get your friend to open up..
You could say “I’ve noticed that you seem really tired recently” or “You don’t seem yourself lately”. Ask “How are you doing?” or “What’s been happening?”
Saying things like “You’ve been acting really weird” or “you’re no fun lately” can cause your friend to shut down and feel judged.
Step Two: Listen
If your friend starts talking, listen and take what they say seriously.
If they seem offended by your questions, make sure that you let them know that you are only asking because you care.
You can ask “How are you feeling about this?” or “How long have you felt this way?” Let them know that you have heard them by saying, “It sounds like it’s a tough time.”
Although people have good intentions when they say stuff like “you shouldn’t be worried about this” or “a lot of people have it worse than you”, these words can make people in distress feel like they are being given the
Step Three: Encourage action
Offer your support and help your friend to start thinking about what might help them to feel better. If they’ve been feeling really down for more than 2 weeks, encourage them to reach out for professional help from a doctor or a counsellor.
PLEASE NOTE: If your feel that your friend is at risk of harming himself/herself or someone else, insist that they go to the nearest hospital or call 911 immediately.
Ask “What can I do to help you get through this?” or “How would you like me to support you?” or you could say “It might be good to talk to someone who really knows how to help.”
It can be hard to reach out for help or make changes when you’re feeling down so saying things like “you just need to stop feeling sorry for yourself” can do more harm than good.
Step Four: Follow up
Stay in touch and be there for your friend. Just showing that you care and that you’re not going anywhere can make a real difference.
Say something like, “I’ve been wondering how you’re doing.” or ask “How have things been since we last talked?”
Getting better can be a slow process so don’t show your impatience by saying things like, “It seems like you don’t want to get better” or asking, “why haven’t you gotten over this yet? Can’t you just snap out of it?”
What if your friend just doesn’t want to admit that there is a problem? Here are some tips on helping a friend who is in denial.