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Help a Friend

Students tell us that they want to know how to help a friend the right way. There are things you can do to listen and support when a friend is experiencing problems with their mental health, but it’s really important that you know that you don’t have to do this alone.

Sometimes students take on too much when a friend is hurting. Your main job is to support them to get the help they need. The best thing we can do for our friends is be there for them. Don’t judge, don’t try to fix, just listen.

Being a good friend means providing everyday support to those around you. It’s simple:

  • Check in on each other, take an interest in what’s going on in each others’ lives.
  • Be kind. You never know what someone else is carrying.
  • Don’t put others down. Avoid spreading rumours. Challenge 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 be better than that.

And when you notice or find out that friend is struggling with a mental health problem, we like the Golden Rules from Bethere.org by Jack.org.

They’re a good guide for how to talk to a friend you’re concerned about.

Have a look at the Signs to Watch For section. Just like with your own mental health, changes in your friend’s behaviour, thoughts and emotions that seem to be intense or lasting a long time can be signs that they need some more support.

That’s when you can turn to the Golden Rules to help.

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, even if your friend has asked you not to.

Here are some options:

  • If you think there’s an immediate safety risk, call 911.
  • Speak to a teacher, parent or another trusted adult who will guide you on how to take action.

If your friend is saying they want help getting support, suggest some options:

  • Talk to your teacher, guidance counsellor or another adult you trust at school.
  • Talk to a parent or guardian and ask to make an appointment with their family doctor.
  • Speak with a counsellor 24/7 by calling Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or texting CONNECT to 686868
  • Check out this list of other services