Two teenage girls sitting by the side of a lake or river facing in the direction of mountains in the distance.

It’s not always easy to help someone who is experiencing anxiety.


They might be in denial about what’s happening to them or they might react badly to the suggestion that something is wrong.

Thankfully, there are ways to help. has created the Five Golden Rules of being there for a friend or family member who is hurting and we think that everyone should know about them!


1. Say what you see

If your friend or family member is struggling with their mental wellbeing, it’s really important to start a conversation about it. However, it’s natural to feel nervous about bringing it up.

One natural way is to simply tell them the changes you’ve observed in them and why you’re concerned. For example, ‘You’ve seemed quite sad over the last few days. Is everything okay?’ or ‘You haven’t been coming out with us as much recently. I miss spending time with you.’

2. Show you care

When someone is going through a mental health difficulty, it can be very isolating for them. They may have confided in you about what’s happening but not be ready to get professional help.

Don’t worry, there are still lots of ways you can show you care about what they’re going through. When you’re with them, ask if they need a hug or a cry – that one gesture could mean more to them than you realise. If they’re unable to leave their room, offer practical help like doing the food shop or making dinner or keep them company by watching TV with them.

3. Hear them out

When you learn that someone is in trouble, it’s natural to go straight into problem-solving mode and tell them what you or someone you know did in a similar situation.

That is not what they need.

If you’ve gone to the trouble of opening up a conversation, now is the time to let them speak and actively listen to what they have to say. Just being there while they talk could make a huge difference to their mindset.

4. Know your role

You want to make them feel better but it’s important to set boundaries to protect your own mental health. You are not their doctor, their therapist or their parent. The burden is not on you to fix their problems or lecture them on how they should be dealing with their emotions.

All you have to do is let them know that you’re there to listen whenever they need you.

5. Connect them to help

You can’t force someone to get help if they don’t want to do it for themselves. However, what you can do is help them to find the right resources for them. You can do some research with them and ask how they would like you to support them. Eg. ‘Would you like me to go with you to your first appointment?’

If they don’t want help at that time, keep the lines of communication open and check in with them over the next few days and weeks. If, at any time, you believe they’re in crisis, call 999 or 112.

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