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Natural helper: How to be one and support someone who is in emotional distress

If you suspect your loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, reaching out in a supportive, non-judgmental way is the first step to providing help.

A meaningful conversation with a friend or family member may be exactly what someone needs to jumpstart the healing process.

What is a natural helper

Natural helpers include:

  • family and friends
  • neighbours
  • people others naturally turn to for advice and support, like elders and spiritual leaders
  • people with similar problems

When someone comes to you for help with their personal challenges, don’t write yourself off as inexperienced or as unable to help.

Listen to their story. It’s a meaningful way to show your loyalty and support. This may help them overcome the challenges they face.

5 things you can do to be a natural helper

Ear with colourful earrings

1. Ask questions and listen

Ask questions tailored to the situation or the person’s state of mind and listen actively to their response

Talk it out

2. Reassure them

Reassure the person that there are solutions to problems and that things can get better

Fabric heart on orange cloth

3. Don't judge

Avoid judgment and offer genuine encouragement, reassurance, and compassion

Hand holding fabric heart

4. Ask about their urgent needs

Help the person consider their most urgent needs and how they could be met

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5. Guide them to support services if they are willing to go

Offer to accompany them to show your support if they need or want you to go with them.

If the distress is significant and is affecting the person’s ability to function, refer them to local support services. 

Offer to accompany them to show your support if they need or want you to go with them.



Maanuuhiikuu provides community members with free and confidential clinical and traditional options to choose from, on their paths to wellness.

Wiichihiiwaauwin (Mental Health) Helpline

Service available 24/7. Cree speakers and Elders are available upon request 

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