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We all go through tough times and people help us through them.

If you’re worried about someone, whether it’s a friend, family member or colleague, there are many ways to support somebody you care about.

Check out some tips below together with links to websites.

Supporting someone with depression/low mood
  • Refer them for support from their GP, a Counsellor or a mental health charity – offer to make the call or attend the appointment with them
  • Be there to listen when they need to talk
  • Continue to invite them to activities, events, social gathering even if they refuse multiple times
  • Check in on them regularly – call, text, write, pop around – make them know that they are cared about and that you are there for them
  • Offer ideas around self care tools such as:
    • Regular exercise, nutrition and healthy meal suggestions, avoiding drug and alcohol use, good sleep routines, journaling, self help books or apps, talk therapy and complimentary therapies.
Supporting someone who self harms
  • When supporting someone who self harms, it is more important to focus on how someone is feeling rather than what they are doing to themselves because it gives the opportunity to talk about the cause of the behaviour
  • In the event of an emergency, call 999 for an ambulance e.g. in the event of an overdose, if they are unconscious, if they are in a lot of pain or have lost a lot of blood, if they have difficulty breathing or if they are in shock from their injuries.
  • If the injury is less severe, encourage first aid or seek medical attention – offer to make the appointment and ask if they want you to go with them.
  • Listen and be patient – it will be daunting for them to talk about their self harm
  • Try not to make decisions for them or any demands on them – be supportive
  • Ask them how you can help or what help would look like
  • Be upfront and clear if you need to make a report or a referral – remember there are certain occasions where we have to report for safeguarding purposes even if they don’t want us to – threat of harm to themselves is one of those occasions but we can explain this to them in a calm and informed manner
  • Don’t worry if you don’t understand why they self harm – just be there to listen and support.
  • Give them the details of support agencies – offer to make the call/appointment for them and offer to be at the appointment with them
Supporting someone who is suicidal
  • If the person has said that they are thinking about suicide, then you need evaluate the risk and react immediately. If they are at high risk of suicide, seek immediate help by calling 999 (police, ambulance), or with their permission take the person to the A&E at the nearest hospital. Remember – their safety is a priority!
  • Talking to someone about self harm or suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult. But if you are unsure whether someone is suicidal or notice any of the signs, the best way to find out is to be honest with the person. Tell them why you are worried about them.
  • Ask direct questions such as “are you having suicidal thoughts?”, “do you ever think about harming yourself?”
  • Don’t be afraid to have the conversation. You cannot make someone think about harming themselves just by raising it – chances are if they are considering any form of self harm or suicide they’ll be relieved that someone has noticed they’re in pain and have been struggling to know how to talk about it.  It might be the opportunity they needed to open up and talk about how they’re feeling.
  • You might be worried that you might ‘put the idea of suicide into the person’s head’ if you ask about suicide. You can’t make a person suicidal by showing your concern. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can give relief from isolation and pent-up negative feelings, and may reduce the risk of a suicide attempt.
  • Don’t ignore or belittle anything they tell you – it might be the only time they try to reach out.
  • Ask if they have a plan for ending their life and if so, what that plan is
  • Provide the number of crisis services such as the Samaritans
  • In a crisis – stay with them until mental health or emergency services arrive
  • Listen without judgement, blame or criticism – they will already be feeling enough of these themselves!
  • Repeat back to them what they say – it shows you’re listening
  • Don’t try to find a quick fix for them
  • Don’t tell them to cheer up, get over it or pull themselves together – it only reinforces their sense of shame that they cannot do those things
  • Don’t change the subject – sit with them through the discomfort
  • Don’t tell them how they should feel or how grateful they should be
  • Ask them if they’ve felt like this before and what helped to get them over that period
  • Ask for their reasons for living – if they can think of any make suggestions.
  • Reassure them that they won’t feel like this forever – that things can get better. Encourage them to focus on today not the future and to take one day at a time
  • Suggest options to deal with their feeling such as the NHS or charities
  • Saying hello to someone, asking them how their doing, offering them a chat over a coffee – these are all small things we can do to remind the person that they matter, that we care and that they are not alone.
  • When someone is feeling suicidal they may feel they have let others down, that they are a burden, a failure or that no-one needs them, that there is no way out, that they have nothing to live for or that no-one cares about them. Making the time to talk, listen and sit with them can go a long way to reversing some of these thoughts for long enough for them to seek specialist support.  Remind them that they matter, that they are needed and that they are loved.
Helpful Websites
MTCBC Social Services
Local Authority social services
NHS Direct
NHS online resources around low mood and depression
Support for:

  • relationship and family problems
  • loss, including loss of a friend or a family member through bereavement
  • financial worries
  • job-related stress
  • college or study-related stress
  • loneliness and isolation
  • depression
  • painful and/or disabling physical illness
  • heavy use of or dependency on alcohol or other drugs
  • thoughts of suicide
Voluntary Action Merthyr Tydfil
Website includes a search engine for local charitable organisations
New Horizons
A mental health & emotional wellbeing resource centre based in RCT, Merthyr and Bridgend – Cwm Taf Morgannwg
Cruse Bereavement
Support for bereavement
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)
Support for men in UK, of any age who are down, in crisis via helpline, webchat and website
Cwm Taf Morgannwg MIND
A range of quality services to individuals who experience mental or emotional distress
Charity aiming to educate and raise awareness of the causes of and treatments for PTSD
Combat Stress
Support for former servicemen and women deal with issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression
Anxiety UK
Help, support ad information about managing anxiety
Self Harm UK
National Self Harm Network
Information and support around self harm
National Centre for Eating Disorders
Support for people with eating disorders
Alcoholics Anonymous
Support for those with alcohol dependencies
Talk to Frank
Confidential drugs advice service
High-quality, free and confidential support and guidance to anyone who is affected by drug or alcohol use, either their own or someone else’s; and raising awareness
A national provider off information, advice and free counselling for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling
Age Cymru
Older persons charity for Wales providing a range of services, factsheets and information services for older people