What emotional support can I offer?

If someone lets you know that they are experiencing difficult thoughts and feelings, it’s common to feel like you don’t know what to do or say – but you don’t need any special training to show someone you care about them. Often just being there for someone and doing small things can be really valuable. For example:

  • Listen. Giving someone space to talk, and listening to how they’re feeling, can be really helpful in itself. If they’re finding it difficult, let them know that you’re there when they are ready
  • Offer reassurance. Seeking help can feel lonely, and sometimes scary. You can reassure someone by letting them know that they are not alone, and that you will be there to help
  • Stay calm. Even though it might be upsetting to hear that someone you care about is distressed, try to stay calm. This will help your friend or family member feel calmer too, and show them that they can talk to you openly without upsetting you
  • Be patient. You might want to know more details about their thoughts and feelings, or want them to get help immediately. But it’s important to let them set the pace for seeking support themselves
  • Try not to make assumptions. Your perspective might be useful to your friend or family member, but try not to assume that you already know what may have caused their feelings, or what will help
  • Keep social contact. Part of the emotional support you offer could be to keep things as normal as possible. This could include involving your friend or family member in social events, or chatting about other parts of their lives

“I had one friend who helped me by just listening and never judging. Without him my recovery time would have been much longer.”

Next page