Having an awkward conversation could save a life

How well do you know your mates?

Would you know how to have a conversation with them if you were concerned they were struggling?

Men aren’t always good at checking in with their mates or asking about how they feel. But it could be the moment that enables your friend to offload, share or take those first steps to getting help.

Have the conversation
A good chat can make all the difference.

Start by ASKING in a way that makes you feel comfortable. Use phrases like “you haven’t seemed yourself lately, is everything OK?” Or “I noticed that you are not going out with us as much, what’s going on?”.

Once your friend has confided in you, genuinely LISTEN to what they have to say and encourage them to talk about what they have going on. How are they feeling? What are they thinking? Or what are they doing differently? Take time to understand how they are feeling and resist the temptation to offer a solution, diagnose or give advice. And definitely don’t tell them to suck it up and move on.

Ensure that you SUPPORT your friend and acknowledge that you have been trusted with something personal and private. Reassure them that they are not alone, and things will improve. Help them overcome any stumbling blocks and if needed, help them explore their options for seeking help. You could suggest they contact their GP for a discussion.

What do I do if the conversation doesn’t go as planned?
Your friend might not be ready to talk or tell you that there is nothing going on. You will need to accept that they are not ready to share their story. Let them know that you are there for them if they need someone to talk to. Focus on staying in touch and doing things together.

If your friend is not ready to see their GP or a health professional about their issue, you need to respect their decision and reassure them they are not alone. You’ve planted the seed that professional support is available for them when they are ready. If you believe there are barriers to your friend seeking support, such as transport or stigma, help them by taking them to their appointment and supporting them on their journey.

If you believe your friend is at risk of suicide, the best thing to do is ask. It can be frightening or distressing but reaching out could save their life. Beyondblue provides tools on how to have this conversation or you can visit www.conversationsmatter.org.au

Finally, if things are really bad, seek help fast. Call your friend’s GP or Triple Zero.
- Information sourced from www.beyondblue.org.au
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