Try asking questions that will get more than a one-word answer. For example, “How long has it been like this?” is more likely to start a discussion than “Has it been a while?” which will get a “yes” or “no” answer. These types of open questions are a good tool get a conversation going.
Listen without judgement, don’t interrupt and acknowledge his feelings. These things can be hard to hear but they’re generally harder to say. Even if you see things differently, try to put yourself in his shoes. Let him know that you hear him and can see where he’s coming from. For example, “It sounds like you are having a really hard time”.
Reassure him that it is okay to feel the way he does. Let him know that help is available and that he will get back on track. You might say, “There are things that can help when we’re doing it tough, a doctor could point you in the right direction. You got this, mate”
Support him in taking positive steps to improve his mental health. This might be starting an exercise program alongside him, making an appointment with a GP or simply getting him out of the house to do the groceries or catch up with mates.
It takes strength to admit when you’re doing it tough and ask for help or take action. Let him know that this won’t break him, it will only make him stronger, and encourage him to keep taking steps in a positive direction.