Ask Sam letter


To Sam

helping others

I recently created an anonymous instagram account just for helping and chatting to people with depression, self harm and/or suicidal thoughts/plans. One person who is depressed about family feels that theit family doesn't love them. What should I say? Thanks, E*
Ask Sam


Hi there E*,

Thanks for your letter about the Instagram account you set up to support young people with depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts and plans.

It sounds like you feel really passionately about helping people who are suffering. When I read what you have decided to do, my first thought was about your kindness. Spending time helping others is a very kind and compassionate thing to do and it seems like those are qualities that you have.

My second thought was about what it might be like for you to be contacted by so many people who are experiencing difficulties, and in some cases, putting their lives in danger. I don’t know how it makes you feel in those situations, but I know from talking to ChildLine counsellors that they have to get lots of support in their roles so that their work doesn’t affect them.

You’ve asked what you could say to someone who feels unloved by their family. It sounds like that person might have found it really helpful just to tell someone how they feel. Sometimes that’s what helps people the most - space to be themselves and say how they feel.

Counsellors at ChildLine (and other places) all have to be specially trained to be able to work with young people in difficult situations. The training does two things: makes sure that they have all the right skills to do the job, and makes sure that they can do the job without it having a negative affect them. A person who supports a counsellor with their work is called a Supervisor. This is because they know that listening to lots of people, who are suffering, can be a difficult thing in itself.

You don’t tell me how old you are but my best advice if you want to support others would be to think about ways of doing this that aren’t likely to harm your own mental health and that will not leave you isolated and without support. It might be that the best way for you to do this would be to be to volunteer with an organisation you choose. You’d be supporting young people in difficulty to find the help they need without taking on their problems, while also getting the training and support needed to do that.

Giving them the link to the ChildLine website or any other place that could support them, such as Mindfull can also help. There’s even a handy Useful Links page on our site that might help you out with this. You should be very cautious about allowing people to contact you as this is a huge responsibility to take on alone.

Lastly, if you do find that you’ve heard something that makes you feel upset or stuck in any way, it’s okay to ask for help. A ChildLine counsellor would always want to be there for you if you want to talk this idea over.

Take care and thanks again for your letter,


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