Tips on how to tautoko/support someone

Mental Health and Wellbeing 16/07/2019

"Discrimination is treating a person a certain way because of the group they belong to, rather than on their personal merit."

It can be hard to know what to do when someone you love or someone close to you is going through a tough time. So here's some tips on how you can help:

You don't need to know all the answers. Just ask, just listen:

  • Just start the kōrero/conversation. “I’ve noticed you’re not yourself lately” can be a good opener.
  • Keep listening. If someone says they’re struggling, its a cue to ask “what’s up?”
  • Ask open ended questions to keep the conversation going. 
  • Give and take. Talk about your life too.
  • Ask yourself what’s more important, your awkwardness or their distress?
  • Be reliable, but ensure you set boundaries to manage your own life and wellbeing.
  • Talking can be easier when you’re doing something together – share a meal, go for a walk, take a drive.

Name calling doesn't help:

  • Mental distress can be tough. Calling them names just adds to it.
  • Talk to the person, not about them.
  • Ask the person about their own experience of mental distress.
  • Remind the person of their strengths.
  • Take a stand against name calling. When you see others doing it, speak up.

Talking about it can feel awkward. Do it anyway:

  • Have hope – people can and do recover. 
  • Remember you don’t have to fix someone. Just be there for them.
  • Take time to understand what it’s like for them. Ask how you can tautoko/support.
  • Whakarongo/listen. Let them take the lead.
  • Try not to give advice or offer solutions unless asked.
  • Ask yourself, do I come across as caring or controlling?
  • Respect their decisions. Trust them to know what’s best for them. 

Don't leave them out. Keep them involved:

  • Keep inviting someone along. If they say no, don’t take it personally.
  • Let them decide how and when they’d like to join in. 
  • Give someone space and the opportunity to open up at their own pace.
  • Keep in mind that experiencing mental distress can mean feeling a little outside your comfort zone.
  • Keep in contact. Treat someone as you’d like to be treated.