Noticed a change in your mate?

Unsure how to help a whānau member who seems to be going through a tough time?

It can be a worry watching someone you love experience a shift in their mental health/wellbeing. Whether it be anxiety, depression, or something harder to figure out.

It’s important to remember how much you can help simply by just being there.

Remember your friendship. Honour your whānau. When we extend aroha to those we care about, when they need it most, this is manaakitanga at its finest.

How to provide support

Sometimes we notice that our friends or whānau are acting differently. It’s okay to be concerned. Whether or not you think they’re in need of help, offering your support by being there is the best thing you can do.

Starting a kōrero can feel awkward, but it’s easier than you’d think. Stick to the facts. Don’t judge. Don’t make assumptions. Just say what you see.

“Hey bro, I’ve noticed you seem a bit down lately, is everything alg?”

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Being there

Sometimes when people feel low or confused about their mental health, they might avoid going out and about. They might stay in their bedroom for hours.  Others may seem to be handling things well, but you might have noticed a few changes. Telling someone you’re there for them is a good first step. It can be as simple as sending them a message letting them know that you’re thinking of them, or can be taking the time to sit down and kōrero.

Check in to see if they want to do anything with you.

You could play pass with a rugby ball, cook some kai together, play video games or go and sit at the beach. Going outside and surrounding yourself with nature can do wonders for the wairua. Remember it’s okay to do nothing- chilling out with no expectations.

So what can you do to support?

  • Ask what they need. Everyone is different so it’s important to ask how you can help and really listen to what they say.
  • Don’t make assumptions on what they need
  • Offer them kai or a tea
  • Let them vent
  • Be kind and respectful
  • Invite them to events or hang outs, even if they say no
  • Tell the truth, even when it’s hard
  • Be patient
  • Whakarongo. Listen. You don’t have fill the “awkward silence” or fix problems by offering advice.
  • Listen to your gut. If something is really feeling wrong, reach out and act.
  • Know your role. You’re not their therapist or doctor. You’re there to listen and be their mate.

If you’re worried about a friend, it’s important to encourage them to seek support, such as their school counsellor, GP, of if they’re not comfortable talking face-to-face, they can FREE call The Lowdown (0800 111 75) text (5626) or Youthline helpline (0800 376 633) or text (234) for 24/7 support.

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