Helping a friend

Supporting a friend can be hard. You want to say and do the right thing to help them, but you might not know the best way to do it. A friend's problems can sometimes make you unhappy too. But we've got tips on how you can be there for them.

how to support a friend

It can be really difficult to know the best way to help a friend. But you don't have to support them on your own. Especially if their problems are really serious.

Often it's helpful to get some advice from someone else. This doesn't mean you're letting your friend down. Or that you're breaking their trust.

It's natural for your friend not to want to tell anyone. They might be scared of what happens next. But it's a good idea to get some advice from a teacher or parent.

And if there isn't an adult you can trust, you can always talk to us.

Supporting someone can be really hard, so it's important you get help too.

4 ways to help a friend:

  • listen to them to help you understand what they're going through
  • don't be upset if they're not ready to talk, it might be difficult for them
  • suggest getting help from a teacher, someone they trust or a counsellor
  • talk to an adult you trust if you're worried or think they might be in danger.

helping a friend who's being bullied

Anyone can be bullied, and it's never their fault if they are. If you're worried that a friend might be being bullied, online or at school, there's lots you can do to support them. 

Watch: The walk home from school

Helping a friend with their mental health

It can be difficult to know what to say when a friend tells you they have a mental health issue. But talking about mental health doesn’t have to feel awkward. There are lots of ways you can support a friend and show you care.

supporting a friend who self-harms

Finding out someone you care about is self-harming can make you feel worried, confused and a bit helpless.

But there are things you can do to help:

  • Be there for them
    Remember that it might have been really difficult for them to tell you about this. Just being there can help.
  • Listen to them
    Be supportive, even if they say something you weren't expecting. 
  • Don't pressure them
    If you've noticed fresh scars but your friend hasn't explained why they're there, it's important that you don't push them for an answer.
  • Don't mention it in front of people
    They might not feel comfortable talking about it yet.
  • Let them know that they can trust you
    If they want to talk to somebody, make sure they know you can help.

Remember, it's not just down to you to help someone stop self-harming. If you need support, you can always talk to one of our counsellors.

Coping with self-harm - Will's Story

helping a friend who's suicidal

If your friend ever talks about suicide or taking their own life, it's important to tell an adult as soon as possible. This means your friend can get help.

Remember, your friend’s feeling can change. It might take some time but things can get better. You've done the right thing in trying to get help.

Find out more about suicide and coping with suicidal feelings.

Helping a friend through a tough time

Finding out something has happened to your friend or that they’ve been abused can be upsetting.

You’ve done the right thing in looking for ways to help them. 

Nobody has the right to hurt you or your friend, or make them do anything that feels wrong.

Abuse can mean a lot of different things. It can include neglectphysical abuseemotional abuse and sexual abuse.

If you're worried about your friend, you can talk to us at any time.

There are things you can do to help:

coping with death

If someone close to your friend has died, it can be a very difficult time for them. It's difficult to know what to do. But there are things you can do to be supportive:

Make contact
It's normal to feel awkward around somebody who's grieving, and you might want to avoid upsetting them anymore. But 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. Sometimes just being there for them can really help.

Sometimes a friend might just want to be alone. It can help to remind them that you're there for them whenever they're ready.

Offer practical help
There are lots of little ways you can make it easier for your friend. Join them on a walk, go for lunch with them or watch a film together. You can also help by writing out any notes they've missed in class and collecting hand-outs.

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 okay to feel sad.

Sometimes your friend might want a distraction, but it's important to ask what they want to do.

Find out more about coping when someone dies.

Things to remember:

Everybody grieves differently
Your friend might show a range of emotions, going from very quiet to lashing out. This is very common. It's important not to take what they say personally as it's a confusing time for them.

There's no set time for feeling better
For some people it can take 18 to 24 months, but it can be longer.