Asking an adult for help

If you have a problem you can’t fix on your own, it’s a good idea to speak to an adult you trust. Telling someone you need help isn’t always easy, but we have some advice to help you.

How can talking to an adult help?

Talking about your problems to someone you trust means they can help you see things differently. They can give you new ideas about how to cope, or help you change things in your life that worry you. Once you tell someone, they can be there for you in the future too.

Putting things into words helps. Sometimes it's just good to say what's on your mind. Talking to someone could make you feel like you don't have to deal with it on your own and make things feel more manageable.

Top tips to remember:

  • choose someone you feel safe with
  • plan what you want to say
  • make sure it’s a good time to talk and that they aren't distracted 
  • you have control over how much you tell someone - you don’t have to say everything if you don’t want to
  • you can ask them before you say anything to keep what you've said private.

Who should I talk to?

If you want to ask an adult for help, make sure it’s a person you trust and feel safe with. They might be someone you feel close to, or have helped you with something before. They could be anyone, such as a:

  • parent, carer, or someone else in your family
  • friend’s parent or carer, or a neighbour
  • teacher, sports coach or a member of staff at your school
  • doctor, school nurse or a school counsellor
  • religious leader, for example a priest, imam or rabbi.

Talking to a counsellor can help you work out who that trusted person could be for you.

how to start a conversation

Try these conversation starters:

  • "I want to tell you something but I don't know how."
  • "This is hard for me to say, but I have something important to tell you.”
  • “I need some advice on something I’m stressed about.”

If you're still not sure how to start a conversation, there are lots of things you can do:

Ways to feel confident

  • Prepare
    Plan what you want to say and try to think of some examples of what’s happened. You don’t have to tell them everything straight away – share what you’re comfortable with and see what they say.
  • Practise
    Practise what you want to say out loud in front of the mirror, or you could practice with a friend or a Childline counsellor.
  • Find the right time to talk
    Try to find a time when the person you want to talk to isn’t too busy or about to rush off. You can also ask them to arrange a quiet time for you to talk, so you’ll have their full attention.

Asking for help if you’re deaf or disabled

Everybody deserves to feel supported, including when you’re deaf or disabled. Having a conversation with someone can help when you’re worried about something or you’re not getting the support you need.

But asking for help can be difficult sometimes. We’ve got advice to make it easier:

  • Find somewhere private to talk or sign
    Try asking a teacher or an adult you trust if you can talk or sign to them when you won’t be disturbed
  • Find the best way to talk or sign
    Writing a letter can be a great way to start a conversation, but that might not be for everyone. If you’re not sure, try chatting online or signing to a Childline counsellor
  • Know your rights
    Knowing your rights can help you to feel more confident when you are asking for help
  • Get help if you’re not taken seriously
    It’s not okay if someone ignores you or doesn’t take you seriously because you’re deaf or disabled. Try asking someone you trust for support, or you can always talk to Childline.

Talking about your mental health

Lots of things make people scared to talk about their mental health. You might be worried about not being taken seriously or being told that you’re overreacting.

But talking about your mental health doesn’t have to be awkward. And talking about it can make a big difference in how you feel.

Not sure what to say? Try:

  • writing down what’s happening. You could list what you’re worried about, and say how long it’s been going on for
  • think about what help you’d like. You might want to go to the doctor, or just want someone to be there to listen. Even if you don’t know what you want, it can help to think about what might help you
  • only share what you’re comfortable with. You don't need to tell them everything if you're not ready, share what you're comfortable with at the time

Take a look at our other pages on mental health.

Don't want to talk face-to-face?

Talking to someone about a problem you’re having can be scary. Doing it in person can feel especially difficult. That’s natural. You can do it in writing, if this is easier. You could write an email, letter or text message. 

But remember that writing something means there's a record of what you’ve said. So it’s important to keep it private. For example, an email is just between you and the person but social networks can be more public.

You could also draw a picture. Drawing can be a good way to explain what you’re going through.

Doc Ready also has advice to help you prepare to speak to a doctor about your mental health.

Did you know?

60% of our counsellors prefer dogs to cats. That’s pawesome!