Just Ask

Being a good friend doesn’t require an instruction manual, and you don't need to be a professional to notice that someone might need additional support. If you’re concerned about someone in your life, just ask. 

Don’t worry about finding the perfect words to say; just be there and let them know they have your support. Having a conversation about mental health might be uncomfortable, but it can make all the difference. 

Here are some tools that can help you help those in need...

Learn the Signs   -   Start a Conversation   -   Conversation Tips   -   Follow Up

Learn the Signs

Concerned about a friend? 

If you aren't certain if someone you care about is displaying worrisome signs regarding their mental health, here are a few signs to look for:

Notice the warning signs online

While you might hang out with your friends a lot, the reality is that you're not always physically with them. While texting, group chats, and DMs can be common forms of keeping in touch, they don't always reveal body language or tone that you would typically see in person. So how do you know if something is off?

Keep an eye out for these signs online that could indicate your friend is struggling with their mental health:

Whether it’s on social media, in group chats, or in person – if you suspect your friend is struggling, trust your gut.

Start a Conversation

Whatever gets you talking...

Opening the door to begin a conversation can really help. Not sure where to start? Try one of these opening lines to help make starting the conversation easier.

Find a moment to talk

Beginning the conversation doesn’t mean you have to dive straight into talking about mental health struggles or have an intense heart to heart. 

Consider instead meeting them where they are or extending an invitation to hang out. You can even talk about struggles you are going through to give your friend an avenue to open up. Whether it's over a bite to eat or taking a walk, a simple “what’s up” is a great place to begin.

Need some ideas of how to start the conversation? Try one of these:

During the Conversation

What to say

When approaching a friend who might be struggling emotionally, it’s important to be patient, open-minded and supportive. You may not understand, but you can listen and be there for them. 

Here are some things you can say:

Conversation tips

You can also use these tips to help make it easier to have a conversation about mental health:

Complicated scenarios

For a little more help, here is some advice on how to navigate common scenarios with confidence:

What if my friend asks me not to tell anyone? It’s totally understandable if your friend asks you to keep a secret. But when dealing with mental health struggles, this isn’t always a good idea. To avoid breaking a promise, it’s easier to not make one in the first place. If your friend asks you to promise not to tell anyone, you can say something along the lines of “I understand why you want me to promise not to tell anyone, and I can do that unless there’s something that makes me really worried about you. I’m always here for you and can go with you to get help if it’s helpful.” This allows you to preserve the trust you have established with your friend while leaving the door open for you to seek help from a trusted adult or professional in the event that your friend later tells you that they are hurting themselves or getting worse.

What if my friend rejects my help? Your friend might be scared to ask for help or open up. If you sense hesitation, you can start the conversation by talking about your own struggles, letting them know you are there for them no matter what, and that you are there to support them. A conversation doesn't always have to be how you extend a helping hand – you can reach out by inviting them to hang out, to come to an event, or activity. If you have a sense that they are needing more or might be more comfortable talking to someone else, you can offer to help make that connection.

What if my friend tells me they are being abused, experiencing trauma, or having suicidal thoughts? If you learn your friend is being abused, a victim of trauma or having suicidal thoughts, they might need more help than you can provide. The best thing you can do as a friend is to assist with getting that additional help, even if it’s hard for them to accept. Click here for more information and resources.

What if my friend becomes angry with me or stops talking to me? Being a confidant is part of friendship. However, sometimes being a good friend requires you to break that trust to get your friend long-term help. Even if your friend becomes angry with you for telling someone, their safety is more important. Consider that your friend may be angry for being “outed,” but they will likely appreciate that you cared enough to get them the help they needed. That said, it’s important to know that sometimes friendships suffer or even end when a friend seeks professional help for a struggling friend. Know that you’re doing the right thing and can take comfort that you played a role for them in starting their road to recovery.

Is just being there enough? Often, just being there is enough for your friend, even if words fail. Listen to your friend, follow-up, and check-in regularly. Being supportive doesn’t have to happen all at once. It can, and usually is, the little moments strung together that truly make an impact. Even if the gesture is small like a text saying you’re thinking about them or how much you appreciate them, it matters. The smallest of gestures add up over time and signal that you care.

Check out these pages for additional resources to navigate specific conversations:


Dealing with loss:


LGBTQ populations: