The quickie toolkit

Sometimes we just know when something's up with a mate, but we're not quite sure what's going on. The simplest way to find out is (surprise, surprise) to ask. Easier said than done sometimes, we know. But as a friend, just being there for him and talking things through can make all the difference.

We've got some tips to help you get started. Remember that just by being there for him, you're being a really great mate!

When should I be worried?

Because we all deal with difficult feelings in different ways, the main thing to look out for is changes in how he normally acts – stuff that's out of character for him. If he's usually up for a night out but you haven't seen him in weeks. Or if he's suddenly partying all the time when he's usually the 'responsible' one.

The things you are noticing in your friend are real. And if you’re wondering to yourself “Am I the right person to help him?” the answer is yes, you are! You clearly care enough about him to notice something's up. Plus, you're here, schooling yourself on how to help him! Your friend will definitely benefit having a chat with a mate like you about what he’s going through, and where he can get more support.

Planning the conversation

There's no need to go overboard with PowerPoints or colour coded Post-it notes, but a bit of thinking ahead can help you feel more prepared and confident.

Where and when will you have the chat?

Choose a time when you’re both relaxed and you won’t be rushed – when you’re out for a walk or drive, for example. Or pick a place that means something to both of you.

Who else can help?

Do some research and have a few support service numbers or websites written down that he can contact. Check out our list of helpful contacts and websites.

Do you have your own supports in place?

Talking about difficult emotions can be stressful, so it's important to debrief with someone you trust. 

Getting started

There’s no right or wrong way to open the conversation – everyone’s friendship is unique, so raise the topic in a way that feels comfortable and natural.

The main thing is to be genuine and let your friend know that you’re concerned about him. Here are some tips for what to say.

Keeping the conversation going

Asking questions can help you understand what’s going on, as well as keeping the conversation going. Try gently asking open questions that get him talking, rather than ones with a yes or no answer. 

If the conversation stalls for a bit, that's OK too. Don't feel like you have to fill all the silences – sometimes the best thing you can do is to listen.