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How To Help A Friend

It can be difficult to know how to help a friend in need.  Here's a toolkit to give you some resources.


Disclaimer: There may be additional signs

Neglect of appearance or intense concern with appearance

Sudden Mood Changes

Physical Symptoms

  • Tiredness

  • Low energy

Personality Changes

  • Grumpy

  • Irritable

  • Short

Loss of Interest in Activities Once Enjoyed

Changes in Sleeping Patterns

Withdraw From Social Events

Reduced Ability to Concentrate

Engagement in Reckless Behavior

Excessive Worrying or Fear


  • May present as over-apologizing

  • Asking for reassurance

  • Asking if you are mad at them



Ask Them How They Are Feeling


Ask Them What They Need From You

  • Validation - telling them that their feelings are okay

  • Problem Solving - helping them navigate difficulties by helping them come up with solutions

Validate Their Feelings

  • Tell them you hear them

  • Tell them what they are feeling is okay to feel

  • Understand the difference between valid and justified*

    • Valid - you feel what you feel and that's okay​

    • Justified - the level of emotion is reasonable considering the situation

Show Empathy and Practice Engaged Body Language

  • Turn towards them

  • Put down any distractions and put your attention on them

Help Them Find Support

  • Help them brainstorm how to reach out and who to reach out to

  • Offer to help them review therapists if needed

Do Your Research

  • Read about symptoms, causes, and treatments to foster the conversations

Take Care of Yourself

  • Allow yourself to recharge and process your feelings

  • Make sure you maintain your boundaries and take time for yourself when you need it

Extend Invitations

  • Show them you care by inviting them to spend time with you


In what we call "emotion mind," often times people just need to hear validation so that they can calm down. If someone is upset and you try to question how justified their emotions are, they may get more upset.

Ask them what they need.


If They Push You Away

  • Sometimes when people push others away it's a sign that they just want someone to really push them to talk about their feelings

  • Show initiative and perseverance

If They Say That They Are Fine

  • People often become accustomed to saying fine because they don't want to be seen as a burden to those that they care about or are used to telling their parents/guardians that

If They Say That They Won't Trust You If You Tell Anyone

  • It's essential speak up and advocate if your friend will not take the actions for themselves

  • ​It's better to know your friend is safe then worry about them in danger


Taking the initiative and going the extra mile to help a friend struggling through depression or other mental illnesses will help them through their journey. They will recognize that someone cares and wants them to get better, even when they feel as though it's impossible.


What You Can Say To Validate Their Feelings

  • "I care"

  • "That sounds difficult"

  • "I'm here for you"

  • "Is there anything I can do to help?"

  • "Do you need someone to talk to?"

  • "Your life makes a difference to me"

  • "It's okay to feel this way"

  • "You aren't weak"

  • "You might not see it now, but I promise there's hope"

  • "You can do this. I'll be right by your side"

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