Talking to someone and asking for help

Asking for help is really easy for some people and the hardest thing in the world for others. Some people have family and friends that they can rely on – sometimes they can offer support and advice that's helpful and sometimes, even when they really care, they haven't got a clue how to help.

Other people don't really feel there is anyone they feel safe enough to speak to or who could or would understand or help. So here are some ideas about asking for help (because asking the right person for help really can help!)

“Talking to someone or asking for help is a strong thing to do – it means you are taking control of a problem and your life”

Know who to ask

Thinking about who you would like to talk to:

  • Do you want it to be someone you know?
  • Who might they tell?
  • Can you trust them?
  • Do you think they will be able to help?

If you know just the right person you can talk to who you know you can trust then go for it!

If you don't know anyone you think could help, or if you want specialist support or want to speak to someone who doesn't know you, there are tons of people out there who could help you – from counsellors to teachers, youth workers, mentors, doctors, etc. Have a look at the services available in your area. You can contact whoever feels right for you.


If you want to talk to someone but are worried about how the words might come out – or that they won't come out at all – you could try rehearsing what you will say with a friend, with someone like a youth worker or Childline, or even your pet if you have one. You could also write down what you are feeling or text or email a person if that's easier, or you might want to ask a friend / support worker to help you with this.

It’s OK if it takes a few goes

Don't worry if it takes a few goes to say what you are feeling / what you need. The people at the service know it can be difficult to talk and ask for help (they probably have to do it themselves from time to time). They won't be offended if you run away / hang up / can't speak immediately. They will just hope you come back and get the support you need. Don’t worry. Congratulate yourself for trying and then try again when you feel you can.

If you are talking to friends, family or carers give people the time to react and think

Remember that you have had a while to think about your problem. The first few things a person says or questions they ask might seem silly or get your back up. If you give them a bit of time to think about what you have said, and try to answer their questions, they might be able to come up with something sensible to help.

People might sometimes also say unhelpful things like “it’s just a phase”, “you’re attention seeking” or “just get over it”. This means they don’t understand the issue and may need some time to understand. They may not be the best people to ask for help on this occasion. Just because someone says these things it does not mean they are true.

Sometimes people might say something you don't want to hear, whether it be right or wrong, so it can help to prepare for this. Often people just want to help.

If the person you chose can’t help, try to identify another person who will be able to listen, understand and support you well.

Find out about Confidentiality – people do not need to know

There are many professionals you can speak to in a confidential safe space. What this means is you can talk to them about anything without feeling judged, and they won't tell other people about it.

If you talk to a professional that you or someone else is at risk of harm they may have to tell somebody. This is their confidentiality policy. This will be different for different professionals in different services. You can ask any professional to explain their confidentiality policy before you talk to them (they should be happy to do this).

Many professionals will only tell someone else if they think you or someone else is at serious risk of harm, and in this case they will only tell someone to try and help, and they will always try to talk to you about this first.

Childline (0800 1111) are able to offer a higher level of confidentiality and so even if you are facing a really serious problem they will not tell anyone without your consent. You can talk to them about who else you might speak to and what might help in your situation without even giving your real name or address.

If someone specifically wants to talk about so called “honour based violence” including forced marriage or female circumcision / genital mutilation they can speak to Karma Nirvana (0800 5999247). There is a total guarantee that no one will find out what you say no matter what it is.

Preparing to talk to a doctor about what’s worrying you

If you are planning to go to the doctor, Doc Ready can help you to get the best out of your visit: it will help you understand what will happen, what the doctor might be able to do to help, your rights, and also help you to plan what you are going to say.

Don’t worry about life “Getting Complicated”

Whatever is happening, the best way to make sure it doesn’t overtake your life and weigh you down is to talk to someone and get the support you need.

Whatever is going on is not who you are

Asking for help initially can involve thinking or talking about the problem and dealing with the feelings of taking about it – more than you do now. Depending on the problem, you may need to attend some appointments, or manage people’s reactions but once some help is set up, or the problem is sorted you can focus on all the other things in your life.

Talking to someone or getting help for a mental health problem does not necessarily mean medication or counselling. There are all kinds of treatment for different conditions and there are often choices to discuss to see what will work best and most simply for you. Getting help helps you to manage the problem as quickly as possible meaning you are free to get on and live life.

Don't Give Up

Sometimes you have a really important problem and people just don't seem to be listening. You approach a teacher and they get distracted, you ask a friend and they don't get it or tell you to get over it, and sometimes getting the attention of someone is impossible when everyone wants a piece of them, or when there is a waiting list a mile long. Do Not Give Up. If the person really knew what you were trying to say and what you were feeling they would stop and listen.

Don't give up on asking for help: You are important and it is important you get the help you need. If one person lets you down or can't help, learn from that, stay strong and ask another person who might be better able.

Really: Don’t Give Up

It can be exhausting working up the energy to tell someone something time and time again only to have the moment missed. Do Not Give Up. Maybe writing it down for a person to read will show the importance and help them to realise you need some help now.

Some problems we can't live with forever and they don't go away. Sometimes the things we need help with cause us problems and get us into trouble or affect how we live and enjoy our lives and relationships or our health. Don't Give Up on getting help - it can get better

Good Help Really Helps

Once people have found the right person to talk to and found the words and the confidence to ask them for help they do feel better. It’s proven time and time again that no matter how big the problem is people who get the right help can take control and get healthier, happier, faster.