How can friends and family help?
This information is for friends and family who want to support someone with depression.
The support of friends and family can play a very important role in someone recovering from depression. Here are some suggestions for how you can help.
- Support them to get help. You can’t force anyone to get help if they don’t want it, so it’s important to reassure your loved one that it’s OK to ask for help, and that there is help out there. See our pages on how to support someone else to seek help for their mental health for more information.
- Be open about depression. Lots of people can find it hard to open up and speak about how they’re feeling. Try to be open about depression and difficult emotions, so your friend or family member knows that it’s OK to talk about what they’re experiencing.
“The best things that friends and family can do is simply listen. They often don’t need to say anything, just being willing to listen to your problems makes you feel less alone and isolated”
- Keep in touch. It might be hard for your loved one to have the energy to keep up contact, so try to keep in touch. Even just a text message or email to let them know that you’re thinking of them can make a big difference to how someone feels.
“Talking… not even talking about how I felt. Just talking about stupid things that didn’t matter over coffee, without pressure and knowing that I can talk about the tough stuff if I want to”
- Don’t be critical. If you’ve not experienced depression yourself, it can be hard to understand why your friend or family member can’t just ‘snap out of it’. Try not to blame them or put too much pressure on them to get better straight away – your loved one is probably being very critical and harsh towards themselves already. Mind’s information about depression can help you learn more about it.
“Just a simple call or text asking me how I am helps. I don’t want sympathy, just to know they are there if I need them”
- Keep a balance. If someone is struggling, you might feel like you should take care of everything for them. While it might be useful to offer to help them do things, like keep on top of the housework or cook healthy meals, it’s also important to encourage them to do things for themselves. Everyone will need different support, so talk to your friend or family member about what they might find useful to have your help with, and identify things they can try to do themselves.
- Take care of yourself. Your mental health is important too, and looking after someone else could put a strain on your wellbeing. See our pages on coping as a carer, managing stress and maintaining your wellbeing for more information on how to look after yourself.
“Listen carefully, don’t judge and most of all, don’t say, ‘Cheer up.’ It’s just not that simple. Sometimes solutions are unnecessary, so don’t feel you have to provide one.”