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Asking for help

Photo: Talking about your mental health might seem scary, but it helps to remember you're not the only one who has felt this way.

Imagine you’re holding a balloon at arm’s length. It might feel easy for the first minute, but after an hour, even though the balloon is light, your arm will have begun to hurt. Eventually, you won’t be able to hold up your arm at all.

Mental health problems work in the same way. Even though our problems might seem small, the longer we hold onto them, the bigger they become. Things that used to be easy, like going to work, seeing your friends or going to the supermarket might start to seem scary. You might find yourself getting angry about small things, or stop enjoying your hobbies.

Sharing how you feel can be difficult, but when we keep our problems inside, we can end up feeling trapped, overwhelmed or lonely.

Putting our feelings into words helps us understand them and ourselves better. The person you talk to might have had a similar problem themselves. They might even know how to make you feel better.

When we tell someone how we feel, they can help us to hold the balloon. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem as heavy any more.

Who should I talk to?

Anyone! It could be your best friend, your mum, your GP or even your cat. Sometimes, simply putting your feelings into words can help you feel better.

Sometimes we can find it easier to share how we’re feeling with someone who doesn’t know us. You can find a list of useful organisations providing counselling and mental health support here.

How do I start the conversation?

Talking about mental health problems can be really tough. You might worry that the person you tell will think you’re overreacting, or that they won’t believe you.

Here are some tips to help you start the conversation.

  1. Plan what you want to say in advance.

  2. Try to find a quiet space where you’ll feel able to be honest with the person you’re talking to.

  3. If you find it too hard to speak or sign about the problem, try writing it down. Include a list of what you’re worried about and how long it’s been going on for.