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To Sam

How to ask for help?

People advise you to ask for help (with self harm/depression etc) by going to teachers or doctors or a trusted adult... but how do you bring up what you want to talk about? How do you ask for help? What do you say if you're nervous? I'm asking this because I feel that often people will choose the easier option of staying quiet about their problems because they don't know how to ask for a teacher's help etc...
Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thanks for your letter.

It’s true that sometimes it's suggested to young people that they ask for help from an adult they trust. It’s also true that it can be hard to speak out to get the help you need.

It can be difficult to know how to start a conversation, particularly if you want to talk about something personal or sensitive. Often young people worry about not finding the right words, getting upset or feeling embarrassed. Preparing what to say in advance can help with anxiety and nerves. If you write it down you can make sure that you include everything that is important and make sure that it’s in a logical order. You can then either let the adult read what you have written, read it to them or use it as notes. It would be okay to leave a letter on the teacher’s desk for them to read. It could also be an idea to say something like: “I wanted to talk to you about something, so I wrote it all down for you to read and maybe we can speak about it when you are free…”  

It is important to think carefully about who to speak to. Remember that if you talk to a teacher about self-harm (or anything else which means you may be in danger) it might mean the teacher has to tell your parents. It's okay to check out confidentiality before you say anything. You can ask the teacher what sorts of things they can keep private and not tell anyone about.

We have lots more tips about asking an adult for help which you may find useful.

Going to the doctors is a daunting idea for many people. It can be difficult sometimes to think clearly when sitting in front of a doctor and to remember everything you wanted to say. Making some notes beforehand can be helpful. Here is some information about visiting your doctor. You could also check out DocReady. This is a website which can help people prepare for a mental health appointment to discuss issues like depression.

Another option is to talk things through with a ChildLine counsellor as this can help young people work through their feelings in a safe and supported way. You can contact ChildLine by phoning 0800 1111, logging on for a 1-2-1 chat, or sending an email.

Take care for now,

Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

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