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How to help a friend who refuses to accept help


Looking for some advice about how to help my friend. It seems he's dealt with growing feels of self-hate and worthlessness his whole life. He's been told messages that he's a bad person and doesn't deserve to be happy from a young age. He's convinced no one actually cares about him. A recent fight within our friend group has triggered a depressive spin. He can barely leave his room without breaking down and crying (I should point out, we all leave together on a college floor so we're constantly around each other). 

Due to family issues when he was really young, he has dealt with psychologists and therapists and doctors before and is convinced they can't help. Our university has free counselling sessions that myself and another friend have been encouraging him to go to, just one session. Flat out refusal to get professionals, friends, family or our college involved.

He's told me he goes through this sometimes, especially because he has three major assessments due this week. I would respect that, but I am concerned for his basic needs. He doesn't want to eat, I had to persuade him for half and hour to have a shower because he hadn't showered in 4 days and he just wants to hide in his room all the time (specifically to avoid talking to people).

I didn't mean to say so much, and I definitely haven't said everything. I'm just struggling to know when to respect how he wants to do things (which is essentially not deal with it and just ignore it) and when I should be talking to someone else how to help him even if he doesn't want it. I know I can't force him but its so hard seeing him like he is.

Any thoughts, opinions, advice or past experiences like this would be great. Thanks so much

Re: How to help a friend who refuses to accept help

Hi @Snowyxp 


Thanks for coming here to ask for advice Heart First off I want to acknowledge how good a friend you are. I hate to think of a world without people like you that look out for their friends. 


It sounds like your friend has a lot to work through and has had a painful past. I agree that he would benefit from getting support from professionals - it can be really tricky when people have had bad past experiences with professionals. How I would personally approach this with a friend is to suggest that it's quite normal for people to not find the perfect therapist for awhile. It can be trial and error - and while that can be exhausting it is worth it when you find the right person. Maybe your friend would feel more comfortable speaking to someone over the phone? If so here are some numbers they can contact: 


Kids HelpLine: 1800 55 1800 

LifeLine: 131114

SANE: 1800 187 263 (this number is better for information and referrals to services) 


In the end of the day as a friend, all we can do is what you have done. Showing you care can make a huge difference for someone. Make sure you also take care of yourself Heart 

Re: How to help a friend who refuses to accept help

Hi @Snowyxp! It can be so frustrating and sad when we care about someone and they don't want any help. It must really hurt to see your friend like this. Smiley Sad You sound like you care a lot about him.

People can go through various stages between not wanting to get help and trying to maintain the improvements they have made. It's normal to cycle between these stages, so it's possible for your friend to still want to get help at a later time. People usually change in their own time and have to want to receive support and make changes before they can get better. While you can't force him to get help, you can show that you're supportive of him. You can gently remind him that you will be there for him and can help him out when he does decide to see a professional. Here is a helpful article with suggestions about what to do when someone doesn't want help.

It's also important to look after yourself. It can be really stressful when a friend or family member is experiencing mental health issues and it can take a toll on everyone involved. We have a lot of articles with self care suggestions here.

I really hope things improve and your friend can eventually get better. Heart

Re: How to help a friend who refuses to accept help

Hey @Snowyxp,


I think it's great that you are trying to help your friend through a tough time even if they don't want help right now.

From personal experience helping one of my friends, I think just continuing to be there for them is a key thing. Continuing to offer the free counselling you mentioned to your friend might make them rethink their decision later on. 


It can be hard to know what to do when someone doesn't want help but keep supporting your friend, you are doing a great job! 

Re: How to help a friend who refuses to accept help

Thanks @Bre-RO @dog_lover94 @WheresMySquishy , all you're advice is really reassuring and makes me feel better. Things have gotten a bit better since I last posted. He's back to his normal self and he's looking after himself, but I know the problems are still just under the surface. I'll continue to support and help him however I can moving forward.


Thanks so much everyone Heart

Re: How to help a friend who refuses to accept help

you sound like a really good friend - someone who is there for the other when they really need it - so it warms my heart that there's people like you out there Smiley Happy

Re: How to help a friend who refuses to accept help

I'm so glad your friend is feeling better @Snowyxp! It's normal for people with mental health issues to have ups and downs. There is often nothing we can do to prevent them from feeling sad or having symptoms. You sound like a great friend. It's wonderful that you're sticking by him through the hard times. Make sure you take care of yourself too! Heart

Re: How to help a friend who refuses to accept help

That's great to hear that your friend is doing a bit better @Snowyxp . 

Make sure that you are taking care of yourself through this as well Heart