Not sure where to start?

We know how daunting it can be to reach out and seek help. Not knowing where to start or who to turn to can also feel overwhelming. Because of this, we are dedicated to making the process easy, providing you with the tools you need to make an informed decision about your next step.

We're here to help. To start, choose where you are on your journey:

I need immediate help right now

If you are worried that you might hurt yourself or someone else, it's important to know you are not alone. There are plenty of organisations available to support you and help you get through this.

Although it may feel like you have no options right now, you do:

Dial 999

If you feel you are in immediate danger of hurting yourself, call 999 or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department. The medical staff here are trained to help.

Speak to your GP

If you can, call your doctor’s surgery and speak to your GP about how you're feeling.

Talk to someone trained to listen

You can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123 now to talk to someone (they are available 24/7). The person on the other end of the line doesn't know who you are; they won't judge you or tell any of your friends or family about how you feel. They are simply there to listen to anything you have to say, at any time. You can also email them, write a letter or send them an SMS text if you don't feel comfortable speaking on the phone. 

Read our suicidal thoughts page

If you don't feel in immediate danger of harming yourself but are having thoughts about suicide, you may find it useful to read our page on suicidal thoughts. Here we look at coping mechanisms and how talk therapy can help.

Is counselling right for me?

Just by being here and reading this, you are taking a hugely positive step in the right direction. The first step to change is to acknowledge that you’re ready to seek help. If you're not ready yet, that's OK too. Be kind to yourself and know that we'll be here whenever you are.

If you are ready for change, knowledge is power. Having access to the right information is key. There is a lot of conflicting information available online, and this in itself can cause confusion and anxiety. Here at Counselling Directory, we have a dedicated team to ensure we provide accurate, up-to-date information. Lots of our counsellors provide insight and advice too; you can find this in our Articles section. You can also explore our Self-help section which has links to resources to help you on your journey.

Our What's worrying you? section contains some of the most common reasons for seeking help. For many of us, just realising that what we're going through is a shared human experience is a relief. It can also be useful to identify what's worrying you so that if you do decide to try counselling, you can ensure the counsellor you see is experienced in this area. It's certainly not necessary to know this before having counselling though, as your counsellor will help to guide you in the right direction.

If you're not sure one-to-one counselling is right for you, you can still seek support here. Our Events section lists workshops, talks and support groups covering a wide range of subjects, from stress and anxiety to art therapy and general well-being.

Our Facts & figures section highlights just how common mental health issues are, providing reassurance that you are definitely not alone - did you know one in four people in England will experience at least one mental health problem each year?

To read how other people have found the counselling process, visit the Your stories section. Here you'll find honest, personal experiences from people who have had counselling to help them get through something difficult.

Trust yourself and if you feel overwhelmed while reading the information, you may need a break to digest everything. You may find the information provided offers a sense of relief. Or you may find that you'd like to contact a counsellor to continue your journey.

I want to find a counsellor

There are times in life when all of us need support. Often we can get this by talking to our partner, family or friends about what's worrying us. In some cases though, it is beneficial to speak to an expert - someone who is trained to help, like a counsellor or psychotherapist.

Talk therapy has proven incredibly helpful for a range of concerns, with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommending various forms for most mental health conditions. Even if you don't identify as having a mental health condition, talking to someone objectively about your worries can help you cope with everyday stresses.

In 2022, Time to Change surveyed over 5,000 people living with mental health issues. Of those 5,000 over half (63%) said it's getting easier to talk about mental health than ever before. 73% felt that they were supported and listened to. 

My therapist has given me that safe place to feel able to share and work through some very difficult problems that used to govern my life. She is a brilliant counsellor and shows a great amount of empathy and support which enables me to reflect on these problems.

I was nervous at first but she helped me to get past that. Now I can't ever imagine not having that hour to work out problems and reflect on certain issues.

- Laura

If you want to learn more about what counselling involves and how it could help you, we recommend visiting our FAQs section and What is counselling? page.

There are several different types of professionals who help with mental health, and understanding what each of them do can get confusing. On our Types of mental health professionals page, we explain all of this without any medical jargon.

To find out what types of talk therapy are available, and which may be best suited to your situation, take a look at our Types of therapy page. Again, here we'll look at some commonly used therapies and explain how they work in easy-to-understand language.

Once you have learnt more about the process and how talk therapy may help, you may feel ready to search for a counsellor in your area. If you have any questions about this part of your journey, please feel free to contact us - we are here to help.

I'm worried about someone else

If you are worried that someone you love is going through something difficult, it can be hard to know what to do. There are several things you can do to help, from asking a simple question like "How are you doing?" to emailing them a link to one of our information pages.

To find out more about how you can support a friend or family member, read our Worried about someone's mental health? page.

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