How To Help A Friend

We all want to help our friends but sometimes we don’t know how or might not have the right words to say!

You don’t have to fix anything… just be there. 

Step 1: Prepare 

Before you check in on a mate, you should be sure that you're in a sound headspace. 

Can you give as much time as is needed? 

Are you prepared to respond if someone says "no"? 

Have you chosen somewhere relatively private and comfortable?

Step 2: Ask "R U OK?"

Four simple letters can make a huge difference! 

Mention specific things that you’ve noticed that are out of the ordinary 

Try: ‘I noticed you haven’t been to class in a couple of weeks, I just wanted to check… is everything ok?’

Or: ‘I don’t know about you, but this week has been pretty stressful for me, how are you coping?’ 

Step 3: Listen without judgement

Don’t interrupt or rush the conversation, listen to everything they have to say. 

Embrace the awkward pause to give them a chance to keep talking  

Show that you’ve listened by repeating back some of the things you’ve heard

Acknowledge that it must be hard 

Step 4: Encourage action

Find out what they have done in the past that has helped them. 

What do they enjoy? What helps them relax? How did they get through a similar situation? 

Can they make time for one of these things in the next week?

Put the choice on them for their next step and get them to verbally commit 

Step 5: Check-In

Make a time to check back in-person, over text/Facebook or phone-call  

Put the reminder in your diary straight away so you don’t forget!

Ask yourself and them, "have that steps taken been helpful so far?"

If they haven't tried it, or it hasn't helped, go back to Step 3

NOTE: If they have been feeling down for two weeks, or if their mood is significantly impacting their work, uni, social life etc., then encourage them to contact a health professional. 

How Can I Be A Better Friend?

Train Yourself! Be Prepared for the Tougher Conversations!

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)

This 12-hour training course offered by CAPS for everyone at UNSW who may have contact with individuals experiencing mental health difficulties in their area.

Train up!

First Aid Training @ UNSW

The University is committed to providing comprehensive health and safety training and induction to staff, contractors and researchers at UNSW

Save lives!

Managing Students in Distress

This 3 hour CAPS workshop helps prepare staff and students for those situations where students are in distress or a potentially harming situations.

Prepare yourself!

Do you need help now?

Head to our full list of external resources, organisations and services or call one of the crisis numbers below.

If you or someone you know is in an emergency situation, call Emergency Services at 000.

Lifeline: Ph: 13 11 14

Emergency (Police/Ambulance/Fire): Ph: 000 | Ph: 112 (mobile phones with no network coverage)