There are things you can do to support someone close to you who hasn’t been their usual self recently.
Helping someone close to you
When you’re close to a person — a friend, someone in your whānau, a workmate, someone from church, a teammate, and more — you can usually tell when they’re going through a tough time. There may be changes in how they behave, dress or it’s something they’ve said. Knowing someone well can also put you in a good position to help them.
You may understand the person’s needs, personality and boundaries well, so you already have ways to approach them about their wellbeing. If you share the same sense of humour for example, you can use that as a way to ask if they’re doing okay and “break the ice” as a path to a more difficult topic.
Anyone can support another person; you don’t have to be a professional. Sometimes just being there can mean a lot to a person who’s going through a rough time in their life.
How does Supporting Others help?
Recognising that someone needs help is often the easier part, but it can be awkward or tricky to know how to react. Supporting Others gives you tips on what you can do based on what you’ve noticed, from checking in to stepping in.
The tips provided are general. They include things you can say or suggestions on what to do. What’s important is for you to use the tips in a way that’s comfortable and within the boundaries of how you’d normally treat the person you’re supporting.
How do I know when someone isn’t doing okay?
You may have noticed something different about how the person normally is. They just seem “off”, even if you can’t immediately figure out what it might be. Maybe they’re putting less effort into the way they dress, or are avoiding activities they used to really enjoy.
Sometimes, significant life events that you’re aware of may cause changes in someone’s behaviour. Maybe they’ve been through a breakup or have just started a new job. The Supporting Others tool also lists a number of physical signs that may be a useful guide for what to look out for.
You can also try the Identifying Signals tool to get to know the common signs of low wellbeing in yourself. Being familiar with these signs can help you relate to others if you’re experiencing the same things.
When do I need to contact a professional?
Generally, you shouldn’t be forcing someone into this before they’re ready. It’s however important to act if you’re really worried about someone’s safety, if the situation is urgent, or if they have been actively resisting help for a long time. Unless it’s a dangerous situation, make sure you have their permission before contacting someone else.
You can find help by pushing the “Get help now” button on the top-right corner of your screen whenever you’re on a Small Steps page. There are also emergency services and mental health helplines listed on the Ministry of Health website.
Try Supporting Others now
Small Steps Toolbox
These tools have been developed to help with feelings of anxiety, stress, or low mood. Each tool only takes a few minutes. Health and wellbeing is an ongoing journey, so try them out and see what works for you.
This tool can give you insight into how what you’re doing affects your mood, and recommends activities that can improve how you’re feeling.
Loneliness is a common feeling we all get from time to time. The tool asks you when you feel lonely and gives insights on why or what you can do about it.
During this mindfulness exercise, you’ll be guided by relaxing audio to calmly notice different visual aspects of images and apply this to your surroundings.
This tool can help to identify unhelpful patterns in your thoughts and beliefs and reframe them over time to help you feel better and make decisions that support your overall sense of wellbeing.
Improving Sleep is a quiz that helps you explore the things you can do or avoid that can lead to a better quality sleep. There are a variety of tips available so you can choose something that suits your lifestyle.
During this exercise, you’ll be guided to identify sensations in your body that you often experience when feeling upset. You can use these as signals to react differently, use a tool, or engage in self-care.
Learn to appreciate the small things in life through practising gratitude. Doing this regularly can help lift your mood and make you feel happier.
Teach your body how to relax better through muscle relaxation. The key is learning to apply this skill in everyday life to the entire body so that you’re not tensing muscles when you don’t need to.
This reflective technique involves slowly breathing in and out to help you feel calmer and more relaxed. This tool is guided by an animated image that inflates and deflates.
This skill involves fully focusing on what a person is saying, rather than selectively hearing. In this exercise, you’ll practice listening and develop an awareness of when you’re not paying attention.
This tool helps you on your journey to gain self-worth. Go through the Building Self-Worth card deck for energetic, reflective, or inspirational activities.