Seeking help early

Telling someone that you’re going through a tough time isn’t easy and usually, the worse a problem becomes, the more difficult it is to talk about. Even though seeking help can be difficult, it’s important to talk about what you are going through as soon as possible. There are lots of different people you can talk to.

This can help if:

  • You’ve been going through a tough time
  • You know someone who’s going through a tough time
  • You really don’t like the idea of seeking help

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Why seek help early?

It can be difficult to know when a problem is serious enough to speak to someone. You might be concerned about the person you are talking to judging you, or trying to intervene when you’d prefer to sort things out for yourself. While you might prefer to wait until a problem is serious before you seek help, the fact of the matter is that as we become more distressed, we are less likely to seek help. Talking about our problems becomes harder because we start to believe that no one can help us overcome the problem we are facing.

Challenges to seeking help

Seeking help can be difficult for lots of reasons. Below are some of the reasons that other young people have identified as stopping them from seeking help:

  • Not having anyone to talk to about the things which worry you the most.
  • Wanting to solve problems on your own.
  • Feeling embarrassed, uncomfortable, scared or stupid about the idea of seeking help. 
  • Concerns about confidentiality or your parents finding out.
  • Hoping the problem will resolve on its own. 
  • Not knowing much about mental health, or whether the problem is serious enough. 
  • Not knowing how to access mental health services.
  • Negative experiences when you tried to get  help in the past.
  • Not being able to get help for practical reasons (e.g. not enough money, waiting times, or living in a rural area). 
Read more about other people’s experiences in the forum discussion on seeing a health professional for the first time.

Knowing when to seek help

Lots of people have trouble figuring out whether the problem they are facing is a normal part of growing up, or a sign they need help from someone else.  Even once it becomes obvious that a problem is serious, many of us still prefer to try to solve problems on our own. This can be a good solution for everyday challenges (e.g., study stress, deciding whether to ask someone on a date). However, waiting to seek help for more serious problems (e.g. break ups, bullying, feeling down, or thoughts of self-injury) can lead to things getting worse and making it harder to talk to someone about it in the long run.

There are some things you can do to make it easier to figure out when a problem is serious:

  • Find information on mental health issues so that you can recognise the signs that someone should seek help.  
  • Increase your self-awareness. This makes it easier to communicate to others what’s going on inside your head. 
  • Build your mental fitness, so that you can cope when your emotions come up. 
Don’t ever feel silly about going to see your doctor about something that’s bothering you. If it’s bothering you enough to consider going to the doctor, it’s probably worthwhile. 

Finding the Best Person to Talk to

It can help to know who’s available to you, and even to talk to them when you face less serious problems in order to figure out whether you trust them, just in case you face a serious problem in the future. It’s important to know all your options.

Face-to-Face Help

In most states in Australia, you can seek help from your GP or a mental health professional without your parent’s involvement when you reach the age of 16. Usually you just need your Medicare card number (not the card itself).  If you’ve got a Medicare number many health professionals will bulk-bill which means that you can see them for free. 

Phone Contact with a Professional

A number of services provide 24/7 support over the phone, and many provide free calls even from your mobile phone.  

Online Contact with a Professional

An increasing number of services are providing online support through instant messaging or email. These services are usually only open during certain hours, so it’s a good idea to check out the opening hours before you face a really difficult time.

Remember, if you aren’t sure who to talk to, contacting a Kids Helpline counsellor is one way that you can get some immediate help, guidance and practical support. There are counsellors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 1800 55 1800. Or you can try using their web or email counselling services.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 16 December, 2015
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