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HOW to help friends in distress

Module 4

We may sense that some of our friends are in a bad space during this period, experiencing greater or prolonged feelings of anxiety and depression.

Some may be in high risk situations and thinking about self harm.

In these urgent situations, how can we identify and support our friend?


Here are a few tips:


Is your friend in imminent danger?

If your friend has been experiencing a period of extended sadness and telling you they want to harm themselves, don’t try to solve it on your own.

Even professionals call for backup in urgent and high risk situations.


Stay on the call and calm them, but get someone to call for backup/emergency hotlines like 999. 


how are you?

Don’t let feelings of panic or tension get to you.

Avoid falling into guilt or fear, you are here to help and support your friend but you are not responsible for their decisions.


Resist the urge to enter their anxiety or sadness, and set your own pace. 

Take time to stretch, take a deep breath and practice self care so you can support your friend calmly and logically.


attend to their feelings

Be gentle while trying to help figure out their needs. 


Acknowledge that your friend's feelings are very real to them. This is not agreeing with their assessment of the situation, but showing awareness that their feelings and experience is real to them. 


Practice emotional first aid and attend to their feelings. Recognise what you can sense and see with a statement like:

It sounds like you're feeling ________

and having a hard time.

 Help them find what works best for them.


Suggest professional help,

if needed

Some situations may benefit from the advice of  a psychologist or trained professional, but it may not always be easy to bring up.

When pivoting or opening a conversation on professional help, don’t push it on your friend. 


Point them towards it with suggestions like “Do you want to consider if this will be helpful for you?”. 


Give instrumental help, invitations like “Do you need me to help you find the phone number to call?” or “Do you need me to ask around?” can make the process easier and more manageable for your friend.


We’ve prepared a list of places to reach other to if you or your friend needs help during this period:

Click to Download!
Friends M4 Hotline Poster.png

When in doubt, don't hesitate to reach out to a trusted friends and family or professional sources for help.

Your friend's safety and well-being is the highest priority, but don't take it upon yourself to support them alone.

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