2020 has been a tough year. With a global pandemic and really challenging conversations about race, power and privilege, staying up-to-date and being online can sometimes be a bit overwhelming! Right now we have the time and abundance of online platforms to be more connected than ever to our friends, but you might be feeling like you don’t know where to start. Or you’re worried you’ll blurt out the wrong thing.
We’re presenters at PROJECT ROCKIT, Australia’s youth-driven movement against (cyber)bullying, and a big part of our job is supporting young people around Australia with the skills to have tricky convos and step up in support of friends in need.
The first thing to remember is that ‘support’ doesn’t always have to be associated with tough times. In fact, if you reach out to someone when things are going well, then it’ll be less awkward for them to accept your support next time they are struggling. Giving and accessing support can be direct, or indirect if that’s a better vibe for you. Either way, opening up is like a muscle: the more you flex it the easier it feels.
Conversation-starters to offer support
*Note: Bob is entirely a made-up name, unless you’re reading this and your name really is Bob. Cool. Hey Bob!
“Hey Bob. Hope you’re doing well, and I’m wondering if you have the mental space for a chat soon? It’s not about anything specific, I just wanna hear where you’re at!”
By giving someone the heads up that you are there to talk on their terms is a great way to signal that you can offer support in a way that’s most comfortable for them.
“Hi Bob. I miss you mate! Do you want to hang out sometime soon to catch-up on how everything’s going?”
Showing someone the value they hold in your life is a great boost, and shows the other person that you’re not just looking out for them because you feel you have to, that you actually want to catch up. This really helps to make that two-way support system rock solid.
“Bob! You’ve been on my mind lately. I hope you’re doing well and just a reminder I am here for support whenever you need.”
Allowing someone to know they are not alone is a great way to show support and encourage them to reach out. Plus who doesn’t love hearing that someone's thinking about them?!
When reaching out to support someone it helps to...
Be specific about why you’re making contact
Include an invitation for an action with no pressure to accept
Be regular and consistent
Support doesn’t always have to be associated with tough times.–PROJECT ROCKIT
Conversation-starters to seek support
You might have the art of supporting others down pat, but sometimes it can be harder to be the one seeking support. It might feel overwhelming to reach out, or you might not know where to start, so here’s some ideas to start.
“Hey Bob, I was wondering if we could catch up soon. I’ve got a few things on my mind and I think it’d really help to talk it all through with you.”
It’s great to acknowledge that you are looking for some support and also let the person know what kind of support would be best for you.
“Hi Bob, I’ve been feeling a bit off lately and was wondering if you feel like hanging out - might help us both to get out and about and do something fun! :)”
Acknowledging that you aren’t feeling okay is a solid first step to actually let people know you need support. It also really helps to keep you accountable to actually taking up space when you do catch-up.
“Hi Bob, I’m not having a good time at the moment and could really use some support. Any chance you have any resources or links that you think could help me? Thanks!”
It is totally okay to simply state that you are struggling and need some support. There’s absolutely no shame with struggling. Even if you don’t feel like talking about it, it’s a good idea to let people know where you’re at.
From these examples, hopefully you can see that giving and accepting support isn’t as simple as a standard copy-and-paste message. Taking time to consider each of our individual needs, hesitations, strengths and differences can help to make your support and others more meaningful.
For more tips on how to seek support from an adult, you can check our this episode of PROJECT ROCKIT TV below (our very own series powered by Google), or for tips on helping a mate who has anxiety, there’s also THIS episode.
PROJECT ROCKIT is Australia’s youth-driven movement against (cyber)bullying, find out more about their workshops here.