When a friend needs help…

What do you do when a friend needs help but they don’t want to be helped, and in fact keep stubbornly refusing to be helped? When someone is struggling with their mental health, domestic circumstances causing them distress, addiction or life struggles, but isn’t ready for you to reach out to them, how do you deal with that?

friend needs help

You may feel powerless and feel as if you’re failing them as a friend. However, the very fact that you’re eager to help them shows that you are a brilliant friend. You just need to re-evaluate your way of getting through to them. Here are some tips for helping a friend in need that doesn’t want your help.

Understand why they don’t want help

Pride can often get in the way of people accepting help. For many people, accepting help feels like a form of weakness – some people may refuse to admit that there’s even a problem. Others may be aware of the problem, but may not want to be a burden on their friends. Try to see it from their view as this might allow you to approach the matter more delicately.

Do your research

Understanding your friend’s problem can help you to decide the best remedy. If your friend has a drinking problem, it’s worth researching into how to help an alcoholic by understanding the symptoms and the effect the addiction has on their body. If your friend is bereaved and depressed, it could be worth researching bereavement stages. The more you know, the easier it will be to engage with them.

Know the boundaries

Some people may be looking for space. Whilst you should keep trying to help, you don’t want to come across as too full-on. Alternatively, some people may need a close watch if you feel they’re going to do harm to themselves. It can sometimes be difficult knowing the boundaries. Tell them you understand if they want space, but equally tell them you’re always there if they need to talk.

Apply group pressure

Getting nagged by you alone might not be enough to convince them they need help. If multiple friends and family members are also applying pressure, your friend might be more inclined to accept help. Rather than confronting your friend as a group, it might be more effective if everyone does it individually on a one-to-one basis.

Stay calm

If your friend gets angry at you, the temptation may be to get angry back, but this may push them away. If they get angry at you, try to react calmly. They may be more inclined to put their guard down and trust you if you’re not get agitated.

Get support yourself

Having to care for a friend may be having a toll on your mental health. Don’t think that just because you’re not in as bad a situation that you can’t also consider services like counselling. If a situation with a friend that needs help, becomes too overwhelming for you, you need to consider your own mental health needs too. You can’t support someone else if you aren’t getting the right support yourself.

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