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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.

Know that you’re not alone in this and people around you want to help you.
Bella Ramsey, actor and YoungMinds ambassador

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.

Opening up for the first time is the hardest part - it becomes easier after that.
Ryan

What our Activists and bloggers say

I know from my own experiences how difficult it can be to talk about what you’re going through, especially if you’re not exactly sure what’s going on yourself. It can be overwhelming trying to figure it out but if you’re feeling this way, I’d encourage you to ask for help. Know that you’re not alone in this and people around you want to help you.
Bella Ramsey, actor and YoungMinds ambassador
Talking to my mum about my mental health for the first time was probably the scariest - and simultaneously the best - thing I have ever done.
Rosie
In my opinion, it's very important to find somebody you trust to talk to about what you're going through. I shut myself away instead of asking for help and it made things even harder for me. It might feel impossible but opening up for the first time is the hardest part- it becomes easier after that.
Ryan
Simply talking about my problems out loud to people that supported me was freeing. I felt that I was making progress.
Laura
For months I had been barely floating above the surface; voicing my struggles allowed me to start working my way back to shore.
Rosie
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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:

Talking has changed my life and my perspective of the world. It’s taught me ways to cope and how to overcome my feelings.

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.

Simply talking about my problems out loud to people that supported me was freeing.
Laura

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

Childline

If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

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

The Mix

Offers support to anyone under 25 about anything that’s troubling them.

Email support available via their online contact form.

Free 1-2-1 webchat service available.

Free short-term counselling service available.

Phone: 0808 808 4994

Opening times: 4pm - 11pm, seven days a week

Youth Access

Provides information about local counselling and advice services for young people aged 12-25.

You can find local services on their website.

Samaritans

Whatever you're going through, you can contact the Samaritans for support.

Phone: 116 123

Email: [email protected]

Opening times: 24/7

Frank

Provides honest information about drugs and alcohol.

Live chat service also available (2 - 6pm, 7 days a week).

Information on accessibility, confidentiality and cost available here.

Phone: 0300 123 6600

Text: 82111

Email: [email protected]

Opening times: 24/7

LawStuff

Provides free legal information to children and young people aged 10-25.

Fill out their contact form online to get support.

Stonewall

Provides information and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people. Information on confidentiality here.

Specialised information for young people available here.

Phone: 0800 0502020

Email: [email protected]

Opening times: 9:30am - 4:30pm, Monday - Friday

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.

Phone: 0808 801 0576 (for people under 18)

Text: 07717 989 025 (for people under 18)

Opening times: 24/7

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