Help a friend
There are things you can do to listen and support when a friend is experiencing problems with their mental health, but it’s important that you know that you don’t have to do this alone.
How you can help friends
Your main job is to support your friends to get the help they need. The best thing we can do for our friends is to be there for them. Don’t judge, don’t try to fix, just listen, and connect them to adults who can give them the appropriate mental health help they need. Also, remember to reach out for support if you need to, your health is important.
Here are simple, everyday things you and your friends can do to care for each other:
- Check in on each other and take an interest in what’s going on in each other’s lives.
- Be kind. You never know what someone else is carrying.
- Don’t put others down. Avoid spreading rumors. Question nasty behavior.
- Include people. Notice others and pull them in.
- Help each other make safe choices. Don’t let peer pressure become a “thing”. You and your friends and classmates can rise above it.
When you notice or find out that a friend is struggling with a mental health problem, try the 5 Golden Rules from Be There, a resource by Jack.org. They’re a step-by-step guide for how to talk to a friend you’re concerned about.
Signs to watch for
Have a look at the signs to watch for section. Just like with your own mental health, changes in your friend’s behavior, thoughts and emotions that seem to be intense or last a long time can be signs that they need some more support. That’s when you can turn to the 5 Golden Rules from Be There to help you.
What to do if you’re concerned
If your friend has said something that makes you worry about their safety or the safety of other people, it’s important that you talk to someone right away, even if your friend has asked you not to.
If your friend is saying they want help getting support, suggest some options:
- Talk to a teacher, guidance counsellor or another adult you trust at school.
- Talk to a parent/caregiver and ask them to make an appointment with their family doctor.
- Kids Help Phone, a 24/7 phone line where they can speak with a trained counselor at 1-800-668-6868. You can also text CONNECT to 686868.
- First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line 1-855-242-3310.
- Black Youth Helpline 416-285-9944 or toll-free 1-833-294-8650.
- Transgender Crisis line 1-877-330-6366.
- Visit a Children’s Mental Health Ontario Centre, find a centre near you
Remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup. It is important to widen your own circle of support and take care of yourself as you help other people.