For Friends & Family

He needs a strong support team to back him up

The simplest way to support a man fighting depression is to let him know that we are there for him. This section of HeadsUpGuys provides the tools to become a knowledgeable, compassionate, and trusted source of support.

If a guy in our lives is showing signs of depression, it’s time to have a conversation – to share your concerns and to let him know you’re there for him. He needs to know that he’s not alone.

Be mindful that the stigma around mental illness makes it tough for some men to acknowledge that they may be depressed. Men face a lot of pressure within our society to push through tough times, bear extra weight, and be the support for everyone else to lean on.

Fear, shame, or simply not knowing how to ask for or accept support often stand in the way of men getting help. This is where we, as friends and family members, can help normalize the experience of depression, offer support where possible, and encourage connecting with professional support.

Signs a man is depressed

Typically, depression is characterized by sadness, lack of energy, changes in appetite, issues with sleep, or suicidal thoughts or behaviours.

In some men, these signs and symptoms can be overshadowed by other symptoms that we may not immediately recognize as signs of depression. These can include:

  • Anger, irritability, or aggression
  • Being “stressed out”
  • Reckless behaviour
  • Ongoing physical pain or symptoms
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Withdrawal and isolation
  • Drinking excessively or more than usual
  • Increased drug use

Individually, the above signs and symptoms may not necessarily indicate that a man is experiencing depression. However, the more of these that he experiences and the greater the frequency/intensity of these indicators, the higher the likelihood that something significant is going on.

Learn more about the signs of depression in men, along with more detailed examples of behaviours to watch for.

Start a conversation

Better health starts with a conversation. If you’ve noticed a man may be dealing with depression, the next step to helping him is to start a conversation to share your concerns and to let him know that you’re there to support him.

Though it may be difficult or awkward at first, starting a conversation about depression can be a turning point in his recovery. It’s never too early or too late to support a guy who may be fighting depression.

Our page dedicated to this topic will guide you through the steps of starting a conversation, while providing concrete examples of things you can say and respond with.

How to provide support

There is no one way to provide support to another person who is struggling with depression.

It might involve meeting up for walks, lending a hand with chores, having regular check-ins, or simply providing a listening ear and hopeful encouragement.

It’s important to know that our job isn’t to be his doctor or therapist, but instead to be there for him as a peer, supporting and encouraging him to take the steps needed to get his health back.

Manage suicide risk

Depression puts someone at an increased risk of suicide, so it’s essential to know the warning signs, as well as when to intervene and best practices for doing so.

This section of the site will prepare you to feel confident in your ability to support a man who may be losing hope of getting better and having thoughts about suicide.

This section is divided into three parts:

  • Assessing signs for suicide risk
  • Gauging and responding to different levels of risk
  • Providing ongoing support

These pages provide comprehensive guides to help us keep a man safe.

Help in a crisis

This page goes over our options for helping a man at imminent risk of taking his own life. This is a situation where we must voice our concerns and intervene (if safe to do so) to help save his life.

Learning how to support a man in suicidal crisis is similar to learning how to provide emergency first aid. Our goal isn’t to ‘fix’ or ‘cure’ him. Rather, our goal is to keep him alive until we can connect him with further medical support.

Knowing the available options and what accessing each of them looks like can help you remain calm and helpful for a man in dire need.

Take care of yourself

Without setting clear boundaries and prioritizing our own mental health needs, it can be easy to lose ourselves in our role as a supporter.

It’s important to make sure our efforts to support a man who is struggling don’t come at the cost of our own health.

Learn how to be patient, check in with yourself, set boundaries, and solidify your own mental health.

Men in our lives

These articles provide tips to support men based on their specific role(s) in our lives:

For Friends:

For Parents:

For Partners, Husbands, Boyfriends:

For Coworkers: