Help & Crisis Support
Remember, if it is an emergency or life is in danger, please call 000.


Crisis support with a key focus on suicide prevention in Australia (available 24/7)

13 11 14


Information on depression, anxiety and how to help yourself or a friend. Telephone, online and email support available (available 24/7)

1300 22 4636

Suicide Call Back Service

Free nationwide professional telephone and online counselling for anyone affected by suicide, or suicidal thoughts (available 24/7)

1300 659 467

Lifeline NZ

Offers crisis support helpline services as well as face-to-face counselling (available 24/7)

0800 543 354

How to help a Friend

Home > How to help a Friend


  •      Don’t panic
  •      Take the time to listen and don’t judge
  •      Keep the conversation relaxed and open
  •      Acknowledge how they are feeling
  •      Avoid telling them what to do
  •      If it’s not too serious, encourage self help strategies
  •      Try using ‘I statements’, like ‘I’m worried…’ or ‘I’ve noticed…’
  •      Start small – try going for a walk or visiting a friend first
  •      If they are unwilling to seek help, encourage them to read stories by other young people or visit an online counselling service
  •      Be honest if you are concerned about what you hear
  •      Work out a plan for them to get further help if they need it. This could be talking to their parents or another trusted adult, going with them to a health service, GP or counsellor – you could offer to make an appointment for them
  •      If they need immediate assistance call 000

Want to help a friend?

At first, it can seem difficult to know how to help a friend, peer or family member as you may not be sure if you are doing the right thing. A good place to start can be to ask your friend how they’re going, or if they’re okay.

What if your friend is not okay?

  1. Listen
    Your friend might just need someone to talk to – taking the time to listen to them and their concerns can often be a huge help.
  2. Let them know they’re not alone
    Let your friend know that you are there for help and support, and that they don’t need to go through this on your own. It is important that you don’t make promises you can’t keep, and that together you work out a plan for them to get further help if they need it.
  3. Think of some practical strategies they can use
    Encourage your friend to consider some self-help strategies such as eating healthy food, exercising, relaxation and meditation, writing down their feelings, getting enough sleep, avoiding alcohol and other drugs, hanging out with friends, going for a walk, or listening to music. You could try inviting them out somewhere, and encouraging other mutual friends to do so too.
  4. Suggest external help
    Your friend might prefer to talk to someone outside of their friends or family. There are a huge amount of services available, so suggest a few that you think might be useful. This could be an appointment with their GP, visiting an online service (e.g. eHeadspace) or seeing a community counsellor. See this factsheet from headspace for things you can say to encourage someone to seek further help.
  5. Choose when to talk
    Some people need ‘time’ and ‘space’ before they’re ready to accept help. If you want to bring up a sensitive issue with someone, try and choose a time when you are both relaxed. If they’re not ready to talk yet, giving them information about where to get help or providing fact sheets can be really useful.
  6. Suggest they read stories about other young people
    There are several online forums where young people who have made it through difficult times can share their stores – see our own stories page here. This may help reduce their feelings of isolation and give them hope for the future.
  7. Trust your gut
    If your friend says they’re fine but you are still worried about changes in their mood, behaviour or thinking, support them in the same way you would have if they had said something concerning. Try to initiate a conversation, listen, and keep them active and socially involved.
  8. Let someone know
    If you are really concerned about your friend, it may be good to let their family or other trusted people know that you are concerned. Encourage your friend to seek help from a professional. If they won’t, let them know that you are worried about being the only one who knows what’s going on and that you would like to tell someone.
  9. Know when to act
    If you think your friend might be thinking about suicide, don’t be afraid to ask them directly. It won’t put the idea in their head or make them more likely attempt it  – that’s a myth. If you are worried that your friend needs urgent medical help or might hurt themselves or somebody else, you need to tell someone immediately, even if they have asked you not to. This could be a family member, teacher, their GP or by calling 000.
  10. Get informed
    Finding out more information about depression, anxiety and other mental health issues might help you better understand what someone is going through. Check out some of the factsheets at,, and

To read about the Do’s and Don’ts of talking about mental health with a friend, click here 

Copyright © 2014 Australian Medical Students' Association. All Rights Reserved