Reaching out for help
We all need a bit of help sometimes. But it can be difficult to know how - or who - to ask. Here are some tips to help, as well as information on what support is available.
Why do you need help?
Sometimes things can seem overwhelming, and you can feel you can’t cope. You may simply just be having a bad day, or you may have an ongoing mental health problem that needs support. The important thing is not to try to cope on your own.
When you’re struggling it’s not good to spend too much time alone, especially if you are feeling low and vulnerable. It’s at times like these that you need to be able to talk to someone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
What's stopping you asking for help?
You might not like asking for help. You may feel that you don’t want to burden other people. You may worry about what they might think about you, or that they could tell other people. You may even be afraid that they’ll laugh at you.
But the truth is, people who care about you will want to help you. You just have to ask.
Who can you ask for help?
- your family – parents or carers, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins
- trusted friends – your own friends, or friends of the family, neighbours
- people you work with
- professionals – your GP, a doctor or nurse, a social worker
- a community support group, or online community
Even if you’re feeling completely alone right now and that you have nowhere to turn or that nobody cares, you are not alone. There are lots of amazing helplines and online services (listed at the bottom of this page) where you can get support from trained professionals who really do care and want to help you through it.
What our Activists and bloggers say
Seren's story: Calling a mental health helpline
The first time I rang a mental health helpline, I was 13 years old.
I’d just moved across the country and started at a new school. A lot was happening with my family, and I was living in a brand-new city with someone I’d never even met before. It was a lot for anyone to cope with, and I remember one day locking myself in the bathroom and breaking down. I didn’t feel like I had anyone around me who could help, so I braved a phone call to someone I’d never spoken to before: Samaritans.
I can’t remember too much about the call, but I do remember that I had never felt so heard and understood until that moment. I was bawling my eyes out, and the person on the end of the phone was warm, kind and patient. They lifted an enormous weight off me simply by being there for me in my moment of crisis.
To continue reading Seren's story, visit 'What it was like to open up about my mental health for the first time'
For more advice on asking for help, as well as real stories from young people, visit our blogs:
Sometimes when you reach out for help, the person you talk to may not react the way you hoped they would or give you the positive support you need, which can be really difficult. But if that happens, their reaction is about them, not you. Not everyone will react in the same way. Please don’t let this discourage you from reaching out again. Remember there are lots of other people who want to help you. You deserve help and support – don’t forget that.
How to ask for help
Decide who is the best person to talk to. Who would you feel most comfortable talking to? Many of us prefer talking to family or friends, but you may prefer to talk to professionals, support groups, helplines or online discussion forums.
Pick your time and place. Choose a good time and somewhere you feel comfortable, so you can talk uninterrupted in a relaxed environment.
What outcome do you want? Do you simply want to be listened to? Would you like more practical or emotional support? It's okay if you don't know, but it can help to think about what you would like to achieve.
Make notes. Write down the things you want to say so you remember to include them in your conversation. Or you could let the other person read your notes if talking is difficult.
Explain how you feel and what support you would like. The other person will then have a better idea about how to try and help you.
It may be difficult to talk about your feelings. But, as the saying goes, “a problem shared is a problem halved,” and you’ll probably feel better simply for having talked to someone.
When you’re feeling down, it’s important that you are not struggling on your own. There is lots of help and support available – you just have to reach out to get it.
Have a look at our guide to speaking to your GP about your mental health for more tips and advice.
Where to find support
To find information on what support is available for a specific condition or symptom, have a look at the relevant page:
Below are some helplines and websites where you can find information, advice or just a listening ear from someone who gets it.
YoungMinds Crisis Messenger
Provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.
All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.
Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.
Text: YM to 85258
Opening times: 24/7
If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.
Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.
Phone: 0800 1111
Opening times: 9am - midnight, 365 days a year
Stop Hate UK
Provides independent, confidential and accessible support for victims and witnesses of hate crimes or discrimination.
Information on accessibility available here.
Operates a specialist 24/7 support service for young people under the age of 18 called Call Hate Out.
You can report any form of hate crime through their website here.
Opening times: 24/7