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Offering help to someone you think might be depressed

by Amanda Collins

If you think someone you care about may be depressed, you don’t have to watch helplessly from the sidelines, there are a whole range of things that you can do to help.

Bring it up

The first thing you need to do is have a chat with them. Choose a time and a place that you are both relaxed, away from others and with enough time to really talk.

You can start off the conversation by asking them how they are. If you get a general “I’m okay”, you can bring up your concerns. You could do this by saying something like “I’ve noticed that you’re not as chatty as usual, is everything alright?”

Listen to what they have to say without judging them, and don’t ever tell them to “just snap out of it”. Let them know that you accept them and that you are there for them.

If you find that they deny or don’t want to talk about their depression, that’s okay. Don’t criticise them or try to bully them into talking. They’re not ready. Instead, tell them that it is okay, that you are still worried about them, and that you are there for them when they want to chat. Make sure you follow up with them in a week or so.

Help them find support services

If they are open to talking about how they are feeling, the next step is to encourage them to get help.

  1. The first place they need to go to is to their doctor. One way you could really help with this, is to offer to drive or accompany them to their appointment. At their appointment, the GP will ask them some questions and talk to them about treatment options. They may also put them on a care plan which lets them visit a psychologist at reduced rates.
  1. Speaking of psychologists, it’s a really great idea for them to visit either a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist. You can find a counsellor on the Australian Counselling Association’s website, a psychologist on the Australian Psychological Society website or a psychiatrist at The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists site.
  1. There are also some really great online programs that have been designed to help people overcome mild to moderate depression. You can find these at:
  1. Counsellors and support services are also available over the phone through beyondblue (1300 224 636), Lifeline (13 11 14), SANE Australia (1800 187 263) and Mensline (1300 789 978).
  1. Lastly, to get a better understanding of what depression is and the treatment options available, check out the following websites: beyondblue, SANE Australia, Black Dog Institute.

Are you worried for the safety of someone you know?

If you think someone you know may be at risk of suicide, it may be difficult, but it’s important that you talk to them about it.

Tell them that you’re concerned and ask them if they have made a plan.

If they are thinking about suicide, encourage them to get help immediately. They can call Lifeline (13 11 14), or head straight to their GP. If neither of these options are available, you can take them to their local hospital where they will get help.

If they have made a plan, you need to contact the psychiatric emergency team at your local hospital and tell them that your friend is suicidal, has made a plan to end their life and that you fear for their immediate safety.

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