A guide to: Helping Those Who Don’t Want Help


Many people have friends or family who are going through tough times. It’s difficult when the ones close to you are struggling to stay afloat in a fast-paced world, and it can be especially frustrating when they refuse the help you extend to them. So what can you do to give them the support they need, when they themselves don’t want to accept it?

Why don’t they want help?

There are a number of reasons why your family member or friend might refuse help:

  • It can be daunting for them to come to the realisation that they are going through a rough patch, and understandably, they may need time to come to terms with it.
  • They might be aware of their situation, but could feel insecure and unwilling to let others in. 
  • They may have previously tried to seek help but had negative experiences.
  • If you are trying to help a friend, make sure they see you as a close friend as well. It could be really hard for them when people they don’t know well attempt to force their way in.

What can you do to help?

One important thing to remember when in a situation like this is to never force the issue – you don’t want your friend/family member feeling stressed or pressured because of it.

  1. Just be there for him/her; listen when they’re ready to talk. 

Just your presence itself, the knowledge that they’re not alone and that there’s someone who is ready to understand them, can be comforting to your friend/family member. Constantly remind him/her that you care about them and that you’re available to listen whenever they’re ready to open up.

2. Get closer to them.

Spend more time with them, whether that includes hanging out and having fun or just chatting and checking up on each other regularly. This may help a lot, as the closer you are to him/her, the more comfortable they will feel with confiding in you.

3. Offer help, but don’t feel powerless and don’t take offence if they refuse to listen.

For reasons such as the ones listed in the first section, it can be understandable when even your closest friends/family members don’t consent to your help, or to seeking professional help. It doesn’t mean that you should feel like you are useless or incompetent, it just means that they need time. If they refuse your help, it doesn’t signify that your advice and suggestions are bad, so don’t take offence (especially since this might create a distance between you both)!

4. Set limits or boundaries for yourself. 

Remember, you’re human too. Don’t exhaust yourself with others’ problems. Although it would be nice, you can’t be there for your friend/family friend every hour of every day. Draw clear lines for yourself based on what you are and aren’t comfortable with, and make sure that they are aware of these boundaries as well. 

5. Again, don’t force the issue on them.

Despite your intentions coming from a good place, forcing your friend/family member to confide in you could make matters worse. This approach would most likely result in the opposite of what you intended to happen, and cause them to push you away even further. Worse still, they could be deterred from seeking any help at all, whether it be professional or from those close to them. 

6. Don’t disclose your friend’s/family member’s issues to others without their consent.

Always make sure that you have your friend’s/family member’s approval before disclosing sensitive issues or any information regarding their situation. Not doing this may result in their loss of trust in you and in professionals, and make their subsequent attempts to seek care more difficult. 

However, if someone informs you of their intent to harm themselves or others, including suicidal ideation, it is important to get help from a trusted adult or contact emergency services if your friend is in immediate danger. Moreover, if a friend shares with you that someone has been hurting them – for example, if they are being bullied, harassed or abused – it is important to reach out to find help for your friend.

Editor’s note: Some more key points and tips to remember before you offer help to people in need around you. Check this page out!