How to get help for someone you are worried about

It's great you are providing support. Has your friend or family member seen their GP? Remember, your GP is a very important source of assistance and we tell you below how to find GPs and counsellors that suit your needs. If you feel comfortable about it, perhaps you could offer to be with them for the appointment. 

Immediate danger

If someone is in immediate danger, please dial 111 for ambulance assistance.

Helplines, GPs and cousellors



You can also access a range of helplines

How to find a GP or mental health professional

How to find a counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapist

Suicide: coping with suicidal thoughts

Suicide: worried about someone

Suicide: supporting someone online

How to tell if you or your family member needs help

Even if you are close to someone, it can sometimes be hard to tell how much emotional pain they are in and whether they need help; and it can be equally as hard recognising in it yourself. Often, it’s something small that can make you think something isn’t quite right – and more often that not, that hunch will be right. You might see it in yourself or in someone else, or someone could see it in you.

You might want to get extra support if they or you:

  • Don't want to see their friends or no longer enjoy spending time with their friends and family
  • Stop doing things they used to love or don't seem to be enjoying themselves
  • Can't remember things, concentrate, or pay attention
  • Feel bad about themselves – guilty, worthless or ashamed
  • Have a big change in eating patterns or appetite
  • Have extreme mood swings
  • Feel hopeless or really sad, or cry a lot
  • Feel anxious, stressed, nervous or scared a lot and can't seem to relax
  • Are not happy unless they're using drugs or alcohol
  • Don't take care of their appearance or personal hygiene
  • Have physical signs of injury or that they are hurting themselves
  • Have panic attacks – rapid heartbeat, unable to breathe, feeling dizzy and extremely scared or anxious all at once.

Educate yourself about their illness

If you are more generally worried about the mental health of a family member or friend, but don’t know where to turn for help, the Mental Health Foundation is a great place to start to find the answers you need.

Educating yourself about the condition, mental wellbeing, self-care and discrimination is valuable, and you will find lots of information on this website to assist. Start with our A to Z of mental health conditions.

While we are not a counselling or clinical service, our Resource & Information Service can help point you the right direction to find information on what mental illnesses and their symptoms are and how to help someone who is experiencing those symptoms. There is no charge for the services and materials we provide. See what the service offers, including live chat, email, phone assistance and more.

Also remember that good physical health helps promote good mental health – so it’s important that your loved one gets a checkup with their GP.

Wellbeing for your family member & yourself

There are many things you can do towards maintaining your own or someone else’s wellbeing. One of those things is learning about the Five Ways to Wellbeing, others you will find on throughout this website and especially on our Looking after yourself and your family page. The best thing you can do is talk to people you trust about how you’re feeling and ask for help when you need it. 

If you have support for yourself it also makes it easier to assist others, your health and wellbeing are important too. You and your family could also use the confidential counselling phone linesat times when you feel you need extra support or to work out your own self-care plan. 

Supporting Families is a national organisation with an Auckland branch and other local branches. It supports family and whanau to provide the best possible quality of life and recovery to their loved one who has a mental illness, and helps family members with their own self-care. Supporting Families promotes the rights and needs of individuals affected by mental illness and their families, and offers free information, education and support groups.

Visit our list of national and regional support groups. If you are interested in support groups for a specific illness, visit our A to Z of mental health conditions and each topics will display relevant support groups.

Useful reading material

Mental Illness – How Families & Friends Can Help – Supporting Families

What Happens Next?!: Support and Information for Parents, Caregivers and Family/Whanau of Young People who have a Mental Illness - Skylight 0800 299 100

Guidelines for supporting young people with stress, anxiety and/or depression – Ministry of Social Development on behalf of The Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project

A Guide for Carers – He Aratohu mā ngā Kaitiaki – Ministry of Social Development