Helpline (951) 686-HELP

How to Help Others

Here’s how you can help:

You have the power to help a friend or family member who is experiencing depression, anxiety or other mental health challenges. Step Up by following these simple steps:

  • Read Up on warning signs for suicide and symptoms of mental illness.
  • Speak Up, start the conversation and talk openly about what they’re experiencing.
  • Listen Up and really hear what they’re saying and feeling.
  • Link Up with local resources. Offer to get help together.
  • Follow Up and offer continued support.

Don’t ignore or dismiss remarks about suicide.

If someone you know needs to be connected with mental health services, please call the Helpline (951) 686-HELP. 

Take immediate action if you or someone you know is experiencing a suicidal or mental health crisis. Call or text 988 for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, also at (800) 273-8255. The phone lines are answered by trained professionals available 24/7; all calls are free and confidential.

How to keep in touch

Support doesn’t end with that first conversation. Here’s how to follow up and stay connected:

Reassure them that they are not alone, that you care and will continue to support them.

Encourage them to talk openly about how they’re feeling and listen carefully. Resist the urge to give advice or talk about your own experiences.

If a person shares their diagnosis with you, learn more about it to understand what they might be experiencing, and how to best support them.

Stay in touch through regular phone calls and visits to help them feel less isolated.

Invite them to dinner, movies, sporting events and other activities. Even if they refuse at first, continue to issue invitations periodically.

Offer to run errands, cook meals, take children to activities or provide other assistance.

Include them in your plans for activities that you know they have enjoyed in the past. Encourage exercise by offering to go for a walk together or some other type of physical activity you know they enjoy.

Cook healthy meals together at your home or theirs, or offer to bring over a healthy meal on occasion.

Talk about the future. People who are experiencing a mental illness may have feelings of hopelessness and have trouble seeing beyond their current state.

Be patient and don’t push for too much too soon. Understand that recovery takes time.

Point out small signs of progress, such as saying, “I see you’re working in your garden again.”

Offer to go with them to medical appointments to provide support.

Speak Up

If you suspect that a friend or family member is struggling with depression, anxiety or another mental health challenge, the best thing you can do is Speak Up.

Dealing with mental illness can be lonely, isolating and frightening, so let the person know that they are not alone. Reassure them that their situation is not unusual; in fact, mental health challenges are quite common.

One in five adult Riverside residents lives with a mental health challenge. Fortunately, recovery is also common, and there are a number of treatments that are effective and readily available.

Listen to what the person is sharing with you. Ask questions to let them know you’re hearing them and respect what they’re going through, because they might not necessarily understand it themselves. Above all, don’t minimize their symptoms or expect them to simply snap out of it. Mental health is just as important to address as physical health.

Encourage your friend or loved one to seek support from a professional. Offer to help find the appropriate resources together. Offer to make an appointment with a doctor or counselor, and volunteer to accompany them if the person would find it helpful.

Don’t underestimate the importance of your support, time and help. You can be a vital piece of your loved one’s recovery. For more ideas about how to support someone who is struggling with mental health problems, watch this helpful video.

What to say vs. what not to say

Sometimes well-meaning comments hurt more than they help. Here are some guidelines from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance for talking to someone who shows symptoms of a mental health disorder. (Of course, put the statements into your own words.) Remember: What’s most important is that your friend or family member understands that you support them.

What Helps What Hurts

  • I know you have a real illness and that’s what causes these thoughts and feelings. It’s all in your head.
  • I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help. We all go through times like this.
  • I know you have a real illness and that’s what causes these thoughts and feelings. You have so much to live for — why do you want to die?
  • Tell me what I can do now to help you. What do you want me to do? I can’t do anything about your situation.
  • You might not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change. Just snap out of it. Look on the bright side.
  • You are not alone in this. I’m here for you. You’ll be fine. Stop worrying.
  • Talk to me. I’m listening. Here’s my advice…
  • I am here for you. We will get through this together. What’s wrong with you? Shouldn’t you be better by now?

Stigma Reduction

People with mental health challenges often experience judgment or unfair treatment because of the stigma associated with mental illness in our culture. In fact, 90% of Californians living with psychological distress reported some measure of discrimination in a recent study.

Prejudice and discrimination often become internalized by people with mental health and substance use problems, meaning they begin to believe the negative things that other people or the media say about them. As a result, many people delay seeking help. Stigma and discrimination can also lead to children dropping out of school, difficulty finding housing or jobs, and it may prevent people from forming close relationships.

Mental health affects us all in some way. So we need to help create safe and supportive communities where we can talk openly about mental health without fear and access support when it’s needed. It’s Up to Us.

To do your part in reducing stigma, consider these tips when talking to others:

  • Challenge myths and stereotypes you hear from friends, family, coworkers and even the media. Let them know how their negative words and incorrect descriptions affect people with mental health problems.
  • See the person beyond their mental illness; they have many other personal qualities that do not disappear just because they also have a mental illness. Don’t allow mental illness to define them. Say “someone experiencing schizophrenia” rather than “a schizophrenic.”
  • Don’t use hurtful or derogatory language. Never refer to someone with mental illness as “crazy” or “loony.”
  • Recognize and applaud the positive stories. People with mental health and substance use problems make valuable contributions to society. View a few examples of inspiring Riverside stories here.
  • Treat people who have mental health problems with dignity and respect. If you have family members, friends or coworkers with substance use or mental health problems, encourage their efforts to get well. And remember that employment, housing and health care discrimination violates human rights. To learn your rights, visit
  • Attend or schedule a Stand Against Stigma presentation. This program is designed to reduce the effects of stigma surrounding mental health challenges in our community through the sharing of experience, strength and hope. To learn more, or find other trainings, visit our Get Trained page.

Get Involved

The It’s Up to Us campaign is our local effort to make Riverside a more supportive community for people who are struggling with their mental health. We’re creating a community in which people can feel safe to reach out, and concerned friends and family know what to do, say, and how to support their impacted loved ones.

Whether you or someone you care about is living with a mental health challenge, we all have a reason to Speak Up. Now is your chance to Stand Up and become an advocate. It’s Up to Us, Riverside!

Here are some ways to make our communities more safe for anyone with mental health challenges:

  • Treat people with mental illness with respect and dignity, just as you would anyone else. Learn more about how to undo stigma.
  • Attend local events raising awareness about suicide prevention.
  • Get involved, speak up and help inspire others to follow suit. Check out the volunteer page to join one of the many Riverside organizations in their efforts to fight discrimination.
  • Lime green has emerged as the national color for mental health awareness. Show your support by wearing a lime green ribbon and sharing why you care about mental health with others.

Get Up and participate! There are many ways to get involved. Click the button for a list of local Riverside County organizations that welcome volunteers.


Get Trained

Sign up now! Special trainings are available for members of the community to learn how to recognize the signs and respond to someone who may be considering suicide, experiencing a mental health challenge or developing a substance use problem.

Register Here

If you need assistance, please email or call (951) 955-3448.