You’re not their therapist or their doctor. You’re there to listen. So, don’t fix, don’t preach.
Just be there.

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Setting clear boundaries will help you maintain a healthy relationship while still being supportive. Don’t judge, just listen and help them get the help they need.

What is your role?

Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we overstep our supportive role and offer advice that causes more harm than good. We’re not here to judge, preach or fix anyone. It’s not usually helpful to sugarcoat things or compare their experiences with your own.
 
Your role is to be there for them, period.

Learn to keep your own opinions and biases in check.

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Remember, it’s not about you. This isn’t the time to talk about struggles you’ve had or how you overcame them. It’s time to listen.

Don't judge.
Their feelings and experiences are valid whether or not you understand them. Your role is to make them feel heard and supported.
Don’t preach.
Giving advice can come off as dismissive of their problems. Unless they directly ask for your opinion, resist the urge to give advice or try to fix things.
Don’t downplay
the situation or be the eternal optimist. Sometimes trying to make them feel better can imply that they are overreacting.

Bri & Neta's Story

I didn’t need someone to fix me or tell me it will get better

Bri & Neta

Setting boundaries is important to maintaining healthy relationships especially when you’re supporting someone struggling with their mental health.


We all need friends we can talk to (and have fun with!), but being there for someone does not mean you become their therapist, personal assistant, or primary caregiver. There are a few different types of boundaries you can set, and a bunch of different ways to set them.


Types of boundaries:

  • Your role. You’re not a therapist or caregiver. You’re their friend, being there for them doesn’t change that.

  • Your capacity. You only have so much time, energy and emotional bandwidth. You can’t be their only support, you’re going to need reinforcements. This is where professional help comes in.
  • Your mental health. You can set boundaries around anything you feel will help protect your mental health and theirs (e.g. topics that are off limits, means of communicating, etc.)



 

Here are some tips on setting boundaries,
but do what works for you.

Be upfront. Communicate your limits and discuss boundaries early.

Assume the best of them and talk to their best self. They care for you and want you to be healthy too.

Revisit the boundaries you set if you feel that you’re drifting beyond them.

Be open to change. Circumstances change and so will your capacity to be there for someone. Don’t be afraid to reassess your limits and communicate them.

Keep on keeping on. Continue to do things you’d usually do together. Don’t let the relationship become all about support.

Erica & Liv's Story

You still demanded respect from me

Erica & Liv

Being in the right frame of mind

Questions from the community

How do I control my own emotions during the conversation? What if there is a power dynamic at play (e.g. they’re my boss, they’re way older than me, they look up to me, etc.)? How often should I check in with them? What if I think someone is just faking it or doing something to get attention? Am I the best person to be there for them?

How to access help

You’re not in this alone. Learn how to access resources and Connect to Help.

Be There