Toolkit / How to Support

Starting the conversation

Bird says that check-in in with someone is one of the most important things you can do for someone in need Dog is trying to pick a good time to talk to cat. Bird explains there are 3 things to think about when having a conversation.1. Make sure you both have enough time to have a conversation. Dog and cat are casually talking.2. Create the proper environment to ensure the person you're supporting feels comfortable. Cat and dog go for a walk3. Share what you've noticed and why you're concerned. Keep it simple, direct and genuine. Dog begins the conversationBird says it's okay if they don't want to talk. What's important is that they know you're there when they are ready.
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Opening a supportive conversation is sometimes uncomfortable and may never feel 100% like the right time! Don’t avoid it because of small things. There are no hard and fast rules to know if someone is in a good space to have a conversation. The best way to find out is to ask. If you are unsure whether or not to open a conversation, remember that checking-in is one of the best things you can do for someone in need.


1. The Right Time and Place

While having supportive conversations is important, it is also important to pick your moment. Creating the proper environment where the person you’re supporting will feel comfortable is key. As general guidelines:

  • Make sure you both have enough time to have a conversation
  • Choose an environment that feels safe for the person you intend to talk to
  • Consider approaching the conversation when you are doing something you enjoy doing together, like going for a walk, a drive, or playing a game

2. Create a ‘Safe Space’

A ‘safe space’ is a trusting environment where the person you’re supporting will feel comfortable to talk with you. They need to know that if they share their story with you, it will be handled in a private, non-judgmental, safe way, and that they will be supported.

3. Share What You’ve Noticed and Express Concern

Asking ‘How have you been?’ or ‘How’s it going?’ isn’t always going to lead into a serious conversation. Your challenge is getting past 'I'm fine!'. It is important that they understand you are genuinely asking how they have been doing. Being specific about what you’ve noticed and why you’re concerned allows people the space to move from ‘I’m fine!’ to a more open conversation.

An example could sound like – ‘I’ve noticed that you’ve been low energy the last couple of weeks, and I’m wondering if you’re doing okay.'

Keep it simple, direct, and genuine!

If they don’t want to open up, that’s okay. What’s important is that they know you’re there when they are ready. Opening up to a friend or family member can be hard, and we are all at different places in our journey. Know that it may take a number of tries to start the conversation. And most importantly, respect if someone doesn’t want to talk. But leave the door open and continue to check in.

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