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Advice about helping a friend

If one of your friends is having problems, it can make you unhappy too. If you are worried about someone, it can help to talk to someone about it. Here you’ll find advice about how to help a friend in different situations.

I'm worried about one of my friends, what can I do?

  • Girl crying on another girl's shoulderTry and talk to your friend and ask
    them to tell you what is wrong.
  • Don't be upset if they don't want to talk to you. It might be very difficult for them to speak about what is wrong, especially if they are scared or worried about what will happen if they do talk.
  • If they don't want to talk to you, suggest that they talk to a teacher or someone else they trust, about what is happening.
  • If you think your friend might be in danger or are really worried about them, you could tell an appropriate adult, such as a parent or teacher, about the problem, even if your friend doesn't want to talk to anyone.
  • If there isn't anyone they feel that they
    can speak to, they can call ChildLine. 

How can I help a friend who
is being bullied?

If your friend is being bullied, don’t ignore it, as by doing so, you are helping the bully get away with it. It doesn’t matter whether your friend is being bullied at school, outside of school or online
(cyber bullying), it still feels the same.

Often classmates don’t realise the effect that bullying can have on a person. Even the smallest comment can be really upsetting. Constant bullying can lead to self-harm, eating problems, depression and, worryingly, suicidal thoughts

Things you can do to help:

• Tell a teacher or parent
Your school have a duty to stop bullying and keep their pupils safe. Don’t be worried about making the bullying worse, a teacher can privately alert other teachers and staff members to keep an eye out on the bully’s behaviour.

• Go with your friend
Telling somebody that you are being bullied and asking for help is daunting. Your friend might feel embarrassed, upset or scared about what might happen. Offer to go with them to see your teacher or both of you could work on a letter to your head teacher.

• Keep a diary
Record who says and does what and whereabouts the bullying happened. This will help your school stop the bullying.
Find out more about bullying

Two friends sitting on the grass side by sideHow can I help a friend who cuts?

Discovering someone you care about is self-harming can leave you feeling worried, confused and a bit helpless, but there are things you can do to help:

• Be there for them
Remember that it may have been really difficult for them to have told you about this and not to judge them for what they are telling you. If you have noticed fresh scars but your friend hasn’t explained why they are there, it’s important that you don’t push them for an answer or mention it in front of other people. Instead, wait until you can speak to your friend privately and let them know that they can trust you, if they want to talk to somebody..

• Listen
Listen to how they feel, sometimes just being there for your friend may be what they need. 

• Encourage them to talk
Encourage them to get support with how they are feeling. If he or she isn’t ready to talk to a parent, they can always talk to ChildLine in confidence. Our counsellors are trained to help and are not easily shocked by what young people tell them. They understand what your friend might be going through and can offer support.

• Get support
Look after yourself and make sure that you get support as well. It can be upsetting to learn that a friend has been cutting. ChildLine are here for both you and your friend. Speak to a counsellor on 0800 1111, through 1-2-1 chat online or by sending an email. Find out more about self-harm.

  • How can I cheer my friend up?

    Many young people feel sad or down from time to time. If your friend is depressed and feeling sad, try and encourage them to talk about how they’re feeling to somebody they trust. This could be a parent, teacher, ChildLine or yourself. The more they share about how they’re feeling, the easier things will become for them and hopefully, they can start to feel more positive.

    Organising things you can do together, such as playing football or going the cinema will prevent them from feeling lonely or isolated. If your friend is starting to lack confidence or is always worried about what other people think, the explore section also has tips on building confidence and self-esteem which you could share with your friend.

  • My friend is feeling suicidal…

    If your friend ever talks about suicide and taking their own life, it’s important to tell an adult as soon as possible so that they can get help. I just want to remind you that, if your friend does feel this way, it doesn’t mean that they feel this way forever. It might take some time but things can get better. You have done the right thing in seeking help.
    Find out more about suicide

  • How do I help a friend in grief?

    If your friend has lost someone close to them, whether it’s a family member, another friend or even a pet, it is likely to be a very difficult and upsetting time for them. You want to help but it’s hard to know what to say or how to go about it.

    Everybody grieves differently
    After hearing the bad news and throughout the grieving process; your friend might show a range of emotions. They could be very quiet one minute to lashing out at family and friends the next. This is very common. It’s important not to take what they say personally.

    It can take time to heal
    It usually takes between 18 to 24 months to recover from bereavement. However, for some young people, it can be sooner than this or even a little longer. By actively seeking advice, you are already a very good friend. Here are a few ways in which you can help your friend.

    - Make contact
    It is normal to feel awkward around somebody who is grieving and avoid them, in fear of upsetting them more. Right now, your friend needs as much support as possible, especially at school. Be honest about how you feel. Saying, “I’m not sure what to say but I want you to know that I care” will mean a lot to them.

    - Offer practical help
    There are lots of little ways you can make it easier for your friend - join them on a walk, take them out for lunch or watch a film together. You can also help by typing up any notes they’ve missed in class and collecting handouts. 

    - Listen and be there for them
    Let your friend talk about how their loved one died. If they’re not ready to talk just yet, don’t force them - you can help by just being there and reminding them that it is ok to feel sad.
    Find out more about coping when someone dies.

  • My friend is pregnant and she told me not to tell…

    It’s important that your friend gets support. If she’s afraid of others finding out, try and encourage her to contact ChildLine on 0800 1111. Calls are free and won’t show up on a phone bill, including mobiles. Our friendly counsellors can then talk her through her options confidentially. You could also offer to be there with her when she does tell her parents, to make it easier for her. 
    Find out more about pregnancy

  • I’m worried my friend is being abused…

    Abuse can mean a lot of different things such as neglect, physical, emotional or sexual abuse. If someone you know is being abused in any way, then the most important thing to do is talk to someone about it. No-one has the right to hurt you or your friend or make them do anything that feels wrong. You have done the right thing in looking for ways to help your friend.

    Who should I tell?
    You might want to start by talking to your friend and let them know that you are there for them. Your friend is likely to feel scared about what will happen if they tell someone - so be prepared that they may not want to talk to you about it.

    If they have told you about what’s happening to them, you could encourage them to tell a trusted adult about it. This could a teacher, your own mum or dad or a ChildLine counsellor on 0800 1111 or through 1-2-1 chat online.

    If you are worried about your friend, you can talk to ChildLine at any time.  We are here for you if you need to talk to us about yourself or someone else.

    What will happen if I tell someone about my friend?
    If you tell someone you trust about what's happening, they should get in touch with people who can help you and find a way to protect your friend from what's happening.
    If you talk to ChildLine, you can tell us as much or as little as you want to.

    If your friend wants us to take action we will do. We will only take action without your friend’s permission if they or someone else’s life is in immediate danger. You or your friend can speak to us, without anybody else finding out. Calls are free and confidential and the number won’t show up on a phone bill.
    Read more about abuse and safety

  • Will telling someone about my friend make me a grass or a snitch?

    No, telling an adult if your friend is having problems won't make you a grass, if you are worried about them. It's hard to support your friends alone if their problems are serious. It's natural that your friend might not want to tell anyone, and it might be because they are scared. It's OK to talk to someone if you are worried, even if your friend says that they don't want you to.

    If you’d prefer to speak to somebody in private, before you tell a parent or teacher, you can contact ChildLine in confidence about your friend and how you can help them.

  • Can I call ChildLine if my friend is having problems?

    Yes. Part of being a good mate is helping your friends when they are having problems. If one of your mates is sad or upset, this can make you unhappy too.

    You can talk to us about anything that is making you sad or unhappy and we are here to listen and help you. Speak to a counsellor on 0800 1111, through 1-2-1 chat online or by sending an email.

    If you are worried about a friend, you can also get advice from other young people on the message boards or ask Sam. Remember, if your friend ever needs emergency help call 999. You have done the right thing in looking out for your mate - they are very lucky to have you as their friend.

Ask Sam

Write Sam a letter about what's worrying you or look at what other people have asked. You don't have to sign up to send Sam a letter

Ask Sam

Want to help a friend?

Need advice on helping a friend? Speak to other young people on the ChildLine message board and exchange ideas and support.

Friends message board

Anything else?

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Advice about helping a friend 

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