how to help a friend

At some time, somebody in your life is going to need help. Maybe they will ask or maybe they won’t. Keep track of your friends and your family and check in with them whenever you can. You might notice little things that actually mean a lot.


What should I look out for?

Some of the things to look out for are people:

  • not doing the things you know they enjoy any more
  • hiding away a lot more than is usual for them
  • starting to use alcohol and other drugs more often
  • not acting the way they normally do
  • seeming disconnected or fighting with mob. 

Keep an eye on what people are posting online. If this seems different then there is probably something up.

How can I help?

If someone seems to be experiencing difficulties and you are feeling OK; the best thing you can do is to ask them if they are doing OK and listen while they yarn up to you. Try not to bombard them with your opinions or advice and don’t feel like you have to solve all their problems. It’s amazing how healing it can be to simply be listened to.

A time might come when someone tells you something that makes you worry – maybe for their safety or others. If this happens it is important that you yarn to:

  • a teacher
  • a health worker
  • a counsellor
  • an adult you trust.

Don't be shame about doing this because you could save them or others from pain and heartache.

There are a lot of people out there who are trained in helping people through life’s twists and turns and if you know of a solid counsellor or service, you might help your mate or family member get in touch with them. 

There are lots of support groups around that you could reach out to for support. Groups such as men’s, women’s and social groups.

headspace has people trained up to help lift the load from your shoulders: eheadspace or call 1800 650 890

If you, or someone you care about, are in crisis call triple zero (000). You can also go to your local hospital emergency department. Remember to stay with the person until they are able to access professional support.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to speak with someone now, contact:

This resource has been developed in partnership with the headspace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Reference Group (Womenjeka Reference Group), Marumali Consultations, the headspace National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group and headspace National.

The headspace Clinical Reference Group oversee and approve clinical resources made available on this website.

Last reviewed 1 July 2021.


Wellbeing wheel reference:

Gee, G., Dudgeon, P., Schultz, C., Hart, A, & Kerrie, K. (2014).Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Emotional Wellbeing. In P. Dudgeon., H. Milroy, & R. Walker (Eds.), Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice (2nd Ed.) (pp. 55-68). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

Get professional support

If you feel you need help there are a range of ways we can support you.