When you’re struggling with any kind of mental health issue, some form of counselling or support can be really helpful. Often one of the main problems with depression and/or anxiety is that we don’t like to burden our friends and family with our problems. When I was ill, I felt very strongly that I only wanted to burden someone with my problems if it was their job to listen to me. But I also didn’t really know where to look for that person.
Here are four ways to get counselling and/or support when you are struggling:
- Speak to your GP. Mental health services on the NHS are woefully under funded and it can be something of a “post code lottery,” as the tabloids like to say it, as to what sort of help is available and how useful it is. But there should be something available, and for many people this is their first port of call.
- Contact Samaritans. Samaritans can be great when you just need someone to talk to. Founded in the 1950s and staffed by volunteers, they have a help line, and you can also email them or even visit a local office for someone to talk to when you need it.
- Get counselling online. Going to counselling can be incredibly helpful, but booking an appointment and going to a venue can be problematic – perhaps you don’t want to take time off work, or you don’t want anyone to know you’re seeing a counsellor. Online counselling can be a great way around this as you can do it from the comfort of your home, and nobody need know – but you can still get all of the professional help and support you need.
- Talk to friends and family. I know, I know; you feel like a burden, and like they don’t really want to know; they have their own problems without you adding to them. One thing someone said to me when I was ill that really stuck with me though: imagine the situation was reversed, and your friend was suffering… and didn’t tell you about it. Imagine your friend was feeling terrible, and they did talk to you; what would you say to them? Why would you think they would be have any differently, if you told them how badly you feel?
Asking for help can be difficult; it can feel like we are showing our vulnerability, and we worry that we will be judged or marked somehow by admitting there is a problem. The truth though is that it takes great strength to admit we can’t do this alone. Each year, one in four of us will have some sort of mental health problem; it is much more common than any of us thinks when we are struggling with the darkness. There is no shame in asking for help, and accepting it when it is offered. Whether you speak to your GP, get counselling online, call the Samaritans or just text a friend for support – do something. Don’t suffer in silence. The chances are, whoever you tell, I’m struggling is very likely to tell you, I’ve been there too.