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Taking Action

There are lots of little things you can do to support a young person going through a tough time. Showing your support will let them know that there is someone who cares about them and wants them to feel happy and healthy. 

What can I do every day? 

  • Let them know they can talk to you. They might not want to talk right away, but it’s important they know there’s someone they can go to who will hear them out
  • Include them as much as you can. Let them make decisions, and ask for their opinion. They might say no most of the time, but don’t stop asking
  • Spend time together. Do things you both enjoy together. This could help take their mind off things, or give them an opportunity to talk about what’s going on for them
  • Be accepting. Try to understand what they are going through and don’t judge them or criticise
  • Encourage them to get involved in other activities. Doing things they’re interested in will help them feel confident, make new friends, and have a bigger support network
  • Acknowledge the things they do well. Celebrate the successes and the things they have achieved
  • Accept them for who they are and let them know they are important to you
  • Help them find options. Encourage them to talk to other friends or whānau for support, and let them know about the helplines and support services that are available
  • Trust them to make the right decisions and be responsible for themselves
  • Get support for yourself too. If you want to be able to support someone, then you need to make sure you take care of yourself 

Another way to support a young person is to help them understand how to stay well in all aspects of their life.

Te Whare Tapa Whā

Te Whare Tapa Whā is a way of understanding how to stay well in all aspects of life. If we think about our wellbeing as a wharenui or meeting house, then all our four walls need to be equally strong for the building to stand strong. The four walls represent the physical, spiritual, social and mental or emotional aspects of our lives.

Here are some ways you could support a young person to stay well in all aspects of their lives:

Te taha tinana, physical health:

You could join a sports team together, or go for a walk or run together. Eat healthy meals together and encourage them to get enough sleep and drink plenty of water.  Ask them about what helps them to relax, and remind them to do it.

Te taha whānau, family relationships:

Spend time with each other and other members of the family. Get them to spend time with friends and people who make them feel good, and who they trust. Help them learn about their whakapapa, or their cultural identity. Help them to identify the parts of their lives where they feel like they belong.

Te taha wairua, the spiritual side:

These are the things that build someone up and give them a strong sense of identity. Talk about the things that make them who they are. Do they have a faith or religion they could draw strength from? You could also go for a bush walk together, sit by a river or beach or get in touch with nature in some way.

Te taha hinengaro, mental and emotional health:

How do they show their emotions to others? Help them to understand and express how they are feeling. They could find new words for different emotions, write down how they’re feeling, draw something or play some music. Support them to get extra help or find someone to talk to if they need it.

Five Ways to Wellbeing

The Mental Health Foundation's Five Ways To Wellbeing is a fantastic resource to help you remember the five things in life that help us stay happy, healthy and well, by giving small examples to practice the Five Ways each day.

If you're really worried right now, especially if you think they're at risk of harming themselves or someone else, have a look at the NEED HELP NOW page to find people who can support you.

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