What to do when someone doesn’t want help

You can feel a bit lost when someone close to you needs help but doesn’t want to accept it. Find out why the people you care about don’t always seek help when they need it. And get some tips on how to support them, including knowing what to do when things get really serious.

This can help if:

  • someone you know is going through a tough time

  • you’re feeling frustrated because you can’t help them

  • you want some tips on how to be there during tough times.

Girl walking away on sidewalk

Why people don’t want help

If things are really getting to someone you care about, it’s important to understand that making a decision to seek help can be a tough thing for them to do. Coming around to the realisation that they're going through a rough patch can be scary and difficult, so it's understandable that they may take some time before deciding to seek help.

How to be there for someone who isn’t ready to seek help

If your offers of advice and support are being rejected, you may feel like you’re powerless to do anything. But you can still be there for your friend; you might just need to take a different approach to the way you’re supporting them.

Be available

Continue to be supportive. Listen to your friend when they need to talk.

Offer help

Give suggestions, if and when your friend reaches out to you and asks for your advice.

Become informed

Do a bit of research into what help is available in your area that could be useful for your friend. That way, if they decide they’re ready to seek help, you’ll be able to give them some direction about who to go and see.

Talk to someone yourself

You need to look after yourself, too. It can be really frustrating, and make you feel helpless, if a friend won’t let you help them. Talk through how you’re feeling with someone you trust.

Set boundaries

You’re not going to be able to be there for someone at every moment of every day. Set some limits on things you’re willing and not willing to do – and stick to them! (For example, work out if you're comfortable about accompanying them to their appointments.)

Don’t force the issue or put pressure on them

If you try to pressure or force a friend to get help, it may come from a good place, but it can actually have the opposite effect to what you intend and could turn your friend off seeking help altogether.

Don’t avoid them

If you avoid your friend, it’s likely to make them feel isolated. It may also mean that if and when they’re ready to seek help, they might not feel comfortable about coming to you for support.

If things are really serious

While, in most circumstances, it's a good idea to give a friend time to come around to the idea of seeking help, if you think someone is in danger or is at risk as a result of what’s going on, it’s important that you seek help immediately.

What can I do now?

  • Learn more about listening skills.

  • If you’re worried that a friend is at risk, tell someone you trust or call a helpline.

  • Have someone that you can talk to yourself if you’re finding it tough.