If life is in danger
Beyond Blue 24/7 crisis support
Fortem Australia during business hours
Fires, floods, drought, other natural disasters, and a pandemic. Australian first responders have faced a lot of disasters in recent times.
This is on top of the things your mate might face in day-to-day life, including environmental, financial, security and social challenges, and all other general challenges of their personal life.
Maybe you know someone who’s reeling from it all. Maybe they’re feeling stressed out, or finding it difficult to cope, or even coping in an unhelpful way or making poor choices. It’s okay for them to not be okay. But how do you feel useful when you notice that they are not okay?
There are things you can do to help.
One of the easiest and most helpful things you can do is to validate your mate. That is, let them know their emotions are okay, and that you’re here to support them.
When you behave in a supportive way towards a friend who’s going through a tough time, you can show them that it’s okay to feel the way they do.
It also gives them the space to feel they can talk to you without being judged, and shows them that seeking help from others is something they could do.
Sometimes you can show your support through what you don’t say. Letting your mate talk, not interrupting them, and showing them through your body language that you’re not judging them – these actions can make a big difference.
Letting your friend know that you’re willing to listen and support them is a big thing you can do to help.
Never say things like, “Cheer up” or “Don’t be sad”. This can make them feel like you’re being dismissive of them, and invalidates them, causing the emotions to be stuck or grow more intense.
Be careful not to go into your own story or the challenges you’re going through, even if it’s similar to your friend’s experience.
To validate your mate, you really need to listen and be there for them. Don’t make it about you.
You’re not expected to be the only person helping your friend.
Your role is to listen and remind them that they’re not alone.
Your role is also to encourage them to reach out to others. There might be more family and friends you can suggest they chat to. And it’s important to point them towards professional help – for example, their GP or Fortem’s clinical support services – so that they can get better.
If you’re ever worried about your friend’s safety, call 000 or Lifeline (13 11 14).