If you're worried about someone who may be struggling, we've got some tips to help you reach out.
⚠️ We're updating the information on this page in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. The advice on this page may change significantly as the situation continues to develop.
Page last updated: 19 July 2021
We know how important human connections are. And we know how hard the challenges and experiences of the past year have been for many people. During this time, we want to help you feel confident supporting others who may be struggling. Now, more than ever, we need to stay connected with others.
It might feel difficult to mention to someone that you’re worried about them if you haven’t seen them in person or talked for a while. That’s OK. If you think somebody might need help, trust your instincts and strike up a conversation. Reaching out to someone can make a big difference if they’re going through a tough time. It can be a video call, a phone call, a text, a DM or a walk in your local park. You could write a letter or an email. Starting a conversation and showing you care can be the first step to helping someone feel less isolated.
There’s no right or wrong way to get started. Trust your instincts and remember that you chat with people in lots of different ways every day.
It's also OK if you don’t get a response straight away. If they don't answer, they may still have read your message or seen your call. That notification buzz can be enough to let them know you care and may encourage them to reach out for support.
If you're worried about someone during the coronavirus pandemic, we've got some tips to help you reach out
How to get the conversation started
If you're worried about someone, you might feel that reaching out could make things worse. If someone isn’t ready to talk, offering them space to share how they are feeling is a powerful way of letting them know that you care for and support them.
Even if you are very close to the person, it may take time and a couple of attempts until someone feels comfortable talking openly about how they’re feeling. If you can, find a place where you can talk free of too much background noise or distractions.
During the conversation, it is important not to rush. Try not to talk about yourself during the conversation. This could mean not offering advice or comparing what they’re going through with your own experiences. Instead, try to listen without judgement. Using open questions like ‘How are you feeling today?’ or ‘Could you tell more about that?’ can encourage someone to talk about how they’re feeling, in their own words.
If there is a pause in the conversation, give the other person space to think about what they might want to say. It can be difficult not to fill these silences with our own thoughts. Remember that you are there to listen.
Meeting in person as restrictions are lifted
As rules around social distancing and mask wearing ease, some of your friends, family or colleagues may need more time than others to adjust or feel comfortable with the new guidance. Some people may feel anxious about meeting in person or inside, even as restrictions are lifted.
If you are meeting in person, it can be helpful to talk about what you are both comfortable with beforehand. It’s normal that people may need to take things at their own pace, and it is important not to pressure people into situations they may not feel comfortable in. Having a clear plan can help everyone feel more comfortable and at ease.
Other tools you could use
Technology has made it much easier for us to keep in touch when we can’t talk face to face. There are loads of free and easy-to-use tools to help you reach out to someone and show them that you care. That virtual chat or cup of tea could make all the difference.
- If you're speaking on the phone, use video if you can. It can make it easier to read people's body language and can help build trust.
- Try and find somewhere quiet, free of background noise and distractions that might interrupt your conversation.
- You can text or leave a voice memo too. It's best to use whichever method of contact you usually speak to them on so they feel comfortable.