At some point, you’re going to face a decision. Are you going to step into the space of being a direct helper? Or, is the support that you need to offer actually about enlisting others to help find the best solution? If you do get involved, is it going to be something that’s sustained and ongoing – or just in the immediate future?
You’ll need to be honest with yourself and the person in need. Are you skilled in the right areas? Are you adequately equipped? Do you have the time to make this kind of commitment or do you already have life overflow yourself? Are you emotionally resilient enough to take this on? Finally, would a professional be a better fit?
Now, the answers to these questions aren’t binary. Even if you feel like you can’t take everything on, there may be some genuinely caring ways you can be supportive. For example, you could offer to do some research on behalf of the person and then provide them with some articles. Or, you could look up a counsellor who specialises in a space that’s relevant to the situation. Depending on how comfortable you feel, you could even offer to attend a GP appointment with the person who needs help.
If it’s a situation that’s arisen at the workplace, you could offer to get the person home or to a safe space where they’re able to get some fresh air. If you feel like it’s appropriate, you could suggest sitting with them and a manager as a neutral party. In a family or work structure there are clear chains of command that need to be respected, so don’t step in if you don’t feel comfortable. You may prefer to explore options that are available within a work or school environment, such as the HR department, employee assistance programs, student services or a counsellor.