Two girls sitting in a bedroom. One is showing the other something on her phone.

A guide for young people Reaching out for help

Asking for help with your mental health can be hard, but you are not alone. Read our tips for having that conversation, and advice on where to turn for support.

Text in yellow and light blue bubble writing reads 'it is okay to show that you are not okay'.

Text in yellow and light blue bubble writing reads 'it is okay to show that you are not okay'.

Why do you need help?

Sometimes things can seem overwhelming, and it can feel like you can’t cope or it is too difficult to manage how you're feeling. 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.

  • Opening up for the first time is the hardest part - it becomes easier after that.
  • Although I still find it hard to reach out, I know there is someone that would rather sit down and listen to me cry than see me suffer in silence.

What's stopping you from asking for help?

Asking for help isn’t always easy. Whether it is a friend, someone in your family, a faith leader or anyone else, you may feel that you don’t want to burden others by telling them your problems. You may worry about what a particular person or your community will think about you if you say you’re struggling with your mental health, or that they could tell other people about what you’ve said. 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. Even if at first it seems that they don’t understand, opening up that discussion is often the first step towards feeling better.

Our bloggers share their experiences of opening up and how it helped:

A mother hugging her daughter on the sofa
We had a long chat about everything I was going through and she offered to phone my school for me and see if they could offer me any sort of help. I was hesitant, but I agreed because I realised that it was the only way things were going to get better for me.
Three young people walk through the woods while talking and smiling together.
Ultimately, this inspired me to seek out therapy for CPTSD and gather additional resources to support my healing. In all situations, it is important to honour and value how you are feeling. If something does not feel right to you, it deserves to be looked into further – we all deserve support.

Who can you ask for help?

Everyone’s support network is different and you will know best who you feel most comfortable to turn to. This could be:

  • Your family – parents or carers, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins.
  • Trusted friends – your own friends, friends of the family, neighbours.
  • Professionals – your GP, a doctor or nurse, a social worker, a therapist.
  • Colleagues or people you work with.
  • A community support group or online community.
  • A faith leader or trusted member within your religious community.
Two young people sit on a bench in a park. The person on the right has his arm around the other young person. The young person on the left is holding the other persons arm while looking down at the floor.

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 where you can get support from trained professionals who really do care and want to help you through it.

You deserve help and support

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. This could be because they don’t share the same understanding of mental health as you, or there might be another reason. But if that happens, their reaction is about them, not you.

Don’t let people’s reactions discourage you from reaching out again, whether that be to the same person or someone else you trust. Remember there are lots of people who want to help you.

You deserve help and support – don’t forget that.

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.
  • Know that you’re not alone in this and people around you want to help you.
    Bella Ramsey, actor and YoungMinds ambassador
  • Simply talking about my problems out loud to people that supported me was freeing. I felt that I was making progress.
  • 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.
  • 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.

How to ask for help

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.

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. You can see a list of places to get support here. If you’d like to talk to your family about your feelings but find that difficult to do, read our guide to struggling with family for tips and advice on starting that conversation.

Struggling with your family

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.

The other person will then have a better idea about how to try and help you.

If you want what you share with your family to be kept between you, it might be helpful to say this before you start the conversation and explain why.

Choose a good time and somewhere you feel comfortable, so you can talk uninterrupted in a relaxed environment.

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.

Remember that the first conversation you have with someone about your mental health doesn't have to be the last. In fact, it can be helpful and feel more manageable to have regular conversations about how you're feeling. This way there is less pressure to get everything you want to say out at once.

It's okay as well to take the conversation at your own pace. There may be things you don't feel ready to talk about yet and that's okay.

If you think it would be helpful to have another conversation but you need some time, try saying "it's been really helpful to talk to you about how I'm feeling. I'd really like it if we could talk about this again sometime soon."

Two women sitting in a room chatting socially
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. The relief of no longer having to pretend to be fine was only just outweighed by the fact that she was immediately supportive and understanding.

How to speak to your GP about mental health

It can be really scary talking to your doctor about mental health for the first time, but there's no need to be scared - it's their job to help.

Have a look at our guide to speaking to your GP about your mental health for more tips and advice.

How to speak to your GP
  • By reaching out, I now have a bigger support system than I could have ever imagined having.
  • Simply talking about my problems out loud to people that supported me was freeing.

Where to find support

Speak to someone

Below are some helplines and websites where you can find information, advice or just a listening ear from someone who gets it.

  • 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.

    Opening times:
  • The Mix

    Offers online information as well as helpline support to under-25s about anything that’s troubling them.

    Email support is available via their online contact form.

    Free 1-2-1 webchat service and telephone helpline available.

    Opening times:
    4pm - 11pm, seven days a week
  • Muslim Youth Helpline

    Provides faith and culturally sensitive support for young Muslims. 

    Online chat service available during opening hours.

    Opening times:
    4pm - 10pm, 365 days a year
  • Samaritans

    Whatever you're going through, you can contact the Samaritans for support. N.B. This is a listening service and does not offer advice or intervention.

    Opening times:
  • Youth Access

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

    Just put in your location and what you need help with into their 'Find help' search, and see what services are available in your area.

  • Tellmi

    Formerly known as MeeToo. A free app for teenagers (11+) providing resources and a fully-moderated community where you can share your problems, get support and help other people too.

    Can be downloaded from Google Play or App Store.

Whether you love the page or think something is missing, we appreciate your feedback. It all helps us to support more young people with their mental health.

Please be aware that this form isn’t a mental health support service. If you are in crisis right now and want to talk to someone urgently, find out who to contact on our urgent help page.

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This form is not a mental health support service. We cannot reply to this. If you are at risk of immediate harm, call 999 and ask for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E. If you are worried about your mental health, call: Childline (for under 19s) on 0800 11 11; or Samaritans on 116 123.

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