We all need a bit of help sometimes, but it can be difficult to know when exactly help is needed, who to ask, and how exactly to ask for it.
Life can surprise us. Unexpected things may happen, or perhaps you just have a lot going on. Whatever it is, sometimes things can seem overwhelming. You may feel like you’re the only one struggling to keep your head above water.
Whether you’re having a bad day, or you have a mental health problem, it’s important you don’t try and cope on your own. However strong you are, we all need support. When feeling low, vulnerable and unlike yourself, spending time on your own is unlikely to help. This is the time when you need to talk to someone – someone you trust – who can offer love, an ear to listen and guide you to the other side.
What’s stopping you?
There are many reasons why a person won’t ask for help. You might not like asking for help. You may feel afraid and ashamed. You might not want to burden anyone with your problems. You may be worried what others will say and what they will think. Perhaps you don’t know where, or who to turn to.
The thing is, people do care. Help is available and even if you’re not comfortable speaking to a friend or family member, there are professionals ready to support you. You just have to ask.
Who can you ask for help?
If you have come to a time where you need a helping hand, there are many roads you can follow. If you have a supportive family network and are comfortable speaking to them, consider talking to your family about how you feel. This may be your parents, your siblings, your grandparents or your cousins.
If you’re not ready to speak to your family (and that’s OK!) it’s important you know there are other options. Know that it’s OK to talk to your friends, your neighbours or your colleagues. They won’t judge you – they care about you and to be frank, people love to help.
You can also speak to a professional. If you’re worried about your health – emotional or physical – you can speak to your GP or consider talking to a counsellor. Sometimes, the simple act of speaking about your feelings can offer a sense of relief and ease some of the stress.
In fact, a 2016 Time to Change survey found that of over 7,000 people living with mental health issues, 60% said they felt relieved and like ‘a weight had been lifted’ after talking about their condition.
How to ask for help
Asking for help is incredibly daunting, but don’t be afraid. If you need immediate help, you can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123. They’re available 24/7 and all calls are anonymous.
If you’re ready to ask for help but not sure how, here are some ways you can prepare.
Decide who is best to talk to, and who you feel most comfortable speaking to. While many of us can get the support we need from family and friends, others will need to follow a different path. If you’d prefer to speak to a professional or support group, that’s OK.
Choose your time wisely and in a place you feel comfortable. If you like walking while you talk, ask the person to come with you. If you prefer a cafe, or the privacy of your own home, invite them over. Try and choose a location that is relaxed and where you won’t be interrupted.
What do you want from them? Acknowledge what it is you want from speaking to them. Do you simply want someone to listen? Or would you like more support? Go in knowing what it is you want from them, and don’t be afraid to ask.
Make notes and plan ahead if you’re nervous. Asking for help can be very overwhelming, so writing down everything you want to say will help you remember.
Explain how you feel and tell them what it is you want from them. Tell them how they can help you – being on the other side can be just as difficult, so be clear and as understanding to them as they are with you.