Tips on how to tautoko/support someone


Here are some tips on how to tautoko/support someone who is experiencing mental distress.

  • You don’t need to know all the answers. Just ask, just listen.

    • Just start the kōrero/conversation. “I’ve noticed you’re not yourself lately” can be a good opener.
    • Keep listening. If someone says they’re struggling, its a cue to ask “what’s up?”
    • Ask open ended questions to keep the conversation going. 
    • Give and take. Talk about your life too.
    • Ask yourself what’s more important, your awkwardness or their distress?
    • Be reliable, but ensure you set boundaries to manage your own life and wellbeing.
    • Talking can be easier when you’re doing something together – share a meal, go for a walk, take a drive.

  • Name calling doesn’t help.

    • Mental distress can be tough. Calling them names just adds to it.
    • Talk to the person, not about them.
    • Ask the person about their own experience of mental distress.
    • Remind the person of their strengths.
    • Take a stand against name calling. When you see others doing it, speak up.

  • Talking about it can feel awkward. Do it anyway.

    • Have hope – people can and do recover. 
    • Remember you don’t have to fix someone. Just be there for them.
    • Take time to understand what it’s like for them. Ask how you can tautoko/support.
    • Whakarongo/listen. Let them take the lead.
    • Try not to give advice or offer solutions unless asked.
    • Ask yourself, do I come across as caring or controlling?
    • Respect their decisions. Trust them to know what’s best for them. 

  • Don’t leave them out. Keep them involved.

    • Keep inviting someone along. If they say no, don’t take it personally.
    • Let them decide how and when they’d like to join in. 
    • Give someone space and the opportunity to open up at their own pace.
    • Keep in mind that experiencing mental distress can mean feeling a little outside your comfort zone.
    • Keep in contact. Treat someone as you’d like to be treated.

    Video4 tipspage thumb noplay