How to find support for your mental health
Finding the right help can be difficult, especially if you're finding it hard to cope or feeling unwell.
There are lots of ways you can find support – but you may need to try a few options to work out what's best for you.
Remember: you're not alone and you deserve support.
Asking for support was definitely one of the hardest things that I ever did, but it was worth it.
You might be unsure if you need help or when you should ask for it. You might be unsure what support you need or what help might look like. But thinking about if you need help is a really important first step.
No matter how you're feeling or what your situation is, you deserve to get help and support at any time.
You could be:
- Thinking of getting help for the first time
- Needing more help than you're getting
- Wanting a different type of help
- Needing urgent help
- Unsure if you need help
- Feeling that your issue ‘isn't serious enough’
- Finding it hard to understand your feelings
- Struggling to know how you're feeling
- Finding it hard to cope with everyday life
Try thinking about what you're struggling with and what you would like your support to look like. Maybe you want ongoing support from a professional. Or maybe you want to share what you're going through with someone you already know.
Every point in life there are waves, small waves and big waves, but they always retreat into the ocean – Charlie, 12
There are lots of different places where you can look for help. You might find some options don't work for you, or that you're not comfortable with them right now. Take your time to think through what feels best for you.
Remember: asking for help can feel hard, and sometimes you might have to wait for appointments. You don't have to go through it alone. You can get support from family, carers, friends and partners. Take your time.
It can sometimes feel helpful and comforting to have your friends, family, carers, partner or teachers support you. They can:
- Listen to you
- Be there to support you with how you're feeling
- Help you feel less alone
- Support you with practical things, like booking appointments
- Help you find support
- Go to appointments with you
You might find it easier to talk to people already know you. But you might not want some people to know – and that's okay. You don't have to share everything with everyone.
It's not always easy to open up to someone you know, and they might not always react in the way you want them to. For tips on starting the conversation, see our page on talking to friends and family.
If you feel uncomfortable saying your thoughts aloud, an alternative would be to write them down and give them to who you feel comfortable with.
You can ask your doctor for support at any time, even if you're not sure about what you're feeling or experiencing.
Doctors can give you a safe space to talk and answer any questions you have.
They can also:
- Give you information about mental health and taking care of yourself.
- Offer you support and treatments, like counselling and medication.
- Refer you to a specialist mental health service, like Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
You can see a doctor or nurse at any age on your own, but they might encourage you to speak to your parent or carer about what's going on.
Sometimes you might struggle to contact your GP, or not feel comfortable talking to them on the phone. You can ask others for help.
For more information, see our page on visiting your doctor.
An official diagnosis helped me to access the support that I needed in school, and also helped me to grow and understand my condition better.
The NHS provides these services to support children and young people with their mental health. Sometimes these services have different names, depending on where you live. You might hear CAMHS also called:
- Children and Young People's Mental Health Services (CYPMHS)
- Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (SCAMHS) in Wales
To get help from CAMHS, you normally need a referral from your doctor. Some services accept referrals from schools, social workers, youth offending teams or even from you – if you're old enough. How you get help from your local CAMHS might depend on where you live.
You might have to wait a while to access support from CAMHS, but while you're waiting, you can look at our ideas for things you could try yourself.
For more information, see our page on understanding CAMHS.
There can be waiting times for your first appointment with CAMHS and your support to start. Waiting for support can be really hard but there are ways you can help support yourself during this time.
Many schools and colleges offer the following mental health support:
- School nurse
- Pupil support service
- Student counselling service
If you're not sure what support is available at your school, you could ask a teacher or a member of staff you trust.
If you have a job, your employer must do all they can to support your wellbeing. They also can't discriminate against you if you have a mental health problem.
Talking to your supervisor or manager is a good place to start. They could help you to:
- Get support at work, like making changes to help manage what you're finding difficult at work.
- Find some training that you could do to help both your role and wellbeing.
You could also ask if your workplace offers free wellbeing support. Some companies offer an Employee Assistance Programme, where you can talk confidentially to a counsellor for free. If you're finding this hard, they might also be able to help you find support outside of work.
To find mental health support from local organisations, you can:
- Search for organisations using the Anna Freud Youth Wellbeing Directory.
- Use our online map to find your nearest Local Mind service for young people.
- Ask a local youth club or group if they know about any places you could find support. Search online to find local youth clubs and groups in your area. You could call or send them an email to see how they can help.
Through your local council, social services can provide extra support if you are:
- Experiencing a mental health problem
- Experiencing any other health problem
- Having problems at school or home
- Looking after someone as a young carer
This support could be:
- A safe place to stay
- Help with money
- Support at school
- Activities outside of school
You can use the GOV.UK search page to find your local council and see what help they offer in your area. You could also email or phone them to get more information, or ask a parent, carer or teacher to do this for you.
I think that it's important to remember that people do care, and they do want to help you.
When I did reach out, everyone I told was so supportive and I really wish I'd done it earlier – the prospect of it was so much scarier than the reality.
Knowing your rights
Find information on understanding your rights, including advice on making complaints about getting support.
Sometimes you might need help and advice straight away for whatever you're going through. You might be waiting for another type of support, or you might not feel comfortable sharing with people you know.
You can use helplines, textlines and online services at any time, for free. And you don't have to give any details about who you are.
It can take a while to figure out what works best for you – but trying different options can help.
Helplines and textlines
You can talk to someone who is trained to listen and support you, by phone, text or webchat. Whatever you say will usually be kept confidential and all of the services in the list below are free to use. Some organisations that are here to help you are:
- Childline. Runs a 24-hour phone helpline, email service and online and 1-2-1 webchat for children and young people in the UK. Childline can also provide Welsh-speaking counsellors.
- Samaritans and Samaritans Cymru. Run a 24-hour helpline to talk through anything you're going through. Samaritans also offer an email service.
- HOPELINEUK. Provides advisors who are trained to help you stay safe from suicide. They can also help if you're worried about someone else. You can get advice and support by phone, text and email.
- The Mix. Offers a helpline, email service, crisis textline, 1-2-1 online chat and telephone counselling service for anyone needing support.
To find more places that can offer you support, see our page of useful contacts. On this page, you'll be able to find more specific options. For example, if you're struggling with your relationship with food or your sexuality.
Connecting online with others
You might find it helps to talk to other young people who are going through something similar to you. You can talk to others on online message boards like:
You can share how you're feeling and look for advice from others on how to cope with what you're experiencing. Connecting online could help you feel:
- Better understood
- Less alone
- That you can help each other
By being anonymous, you might also feel like you can talk more openly about what you're going through.
There are other message boards, social media apps and sites that you might use to talk to others. But you might see posts, images or comments that are upsetting.
It's a good idea to look for sites that:
- Have guidelines about what you can and can't post
- Have moderators who can make sure everyone sticks to the guidelines
- Have been created for your age group
- Don't encourage you to do anything dangerous or harmful to yourself
- Make you feel better, not worse
Check in with yourself: are message boards helping or hurting your mental health?
Finding ways to take care of your mental health is important no matter what kind of support you're getting. You can explore different ways of helping yourself, which you can use along with any other support.
Remember: you don't have to figure out everything by yourself. It's okay if you need more support.
From the support I've received through websites and outpatients, it's like I'm seeing things from a way bigger perspective.
Reading about self-help
The Reading Well Shelf Help scheme suggests self-help books that you can read. These are recommended by professionals, and you can get them for free at your local library.
You could also ask at your school or CAMHS service if they have any self-help resources they can recommend.
Looking after your wellbeing
Looking after yourself and your wellbeing is really important. Everyone is different – you might want to think about what you like and what works for you. To look after your wellbeing, you could try to:
- Take care of your physical health, like trying to make sure you're eating and sleeping enough.
- Connect with others, like spending time with family and friends, or volunteering.
- Connect with nature, like going for a walk or watching the birds from your window.
- Do things you enjoy, like being creative or watching your favourite TV show.
- Do things you find relaxing, like listening to music or meditating.
For more ideas, see our page on looking after your wellbeing.
It can take quite a while to figure out what type of support is best… I've found the best support includes a range of things.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
These are services that support young people with their mental health.
You might see them called different names sometimes, but they offer the same type of services for young people:
- In Wales, they're called Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (SCAMHS)
- In England or Wales, you might also hear them called Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CYPMHS)
Find out more in our CAMHS information hub.
- talk through a problem or situation that is negatively affecting your mental health
- recognise how it affects you
- work out positive coping strategies or ways to make the situation better.
It may be face-to-face, over the phone or over video call.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
This is the local government for an area. It provides services for the people who live or are staying in the area. These include health services, social services, schools, transport and housing.
Each local government can decide how services are run. This means that some services in different areas may have different rules.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
This is a request to a service asking them to review:
- how you’re feeling
- what support you need.
The referral helps explain to the new service why they should see you, and what the best way to help you might be.
Sometimes referrals can be made by yourself, a family member or social worker. But they’re often made by your doctor as they understand your medical history.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
This is a medical doctor that specialises in mental health (psychiatry). Psychiatrists can:
- carry out assessments
- decide with you which treatments to try, including medication
- be your therapist for a treatment, like group therapy.
Psychologists help you to explore how you’re thinking, feeling and behaving. There are different types of psychologists, like clinical psychologists or occupational psychologists.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
These involve talking with a professional about your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. There are many types of talking therapies, such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). You usually take part for an agreed length of time and number of sessions.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
Or local council. This is the group of people responsible for certain services in your area, like social care and education.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
Counsellors listen to you and give you a safe space to explore how you’re thinking, feeling and behaving. They also help you find ways to cope with things.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
Discrimination is when someone treats you differently or unfairly because of:
- Your age
- Your disability
- Your gender
- Your gender identity
- Your sexuality
- Your relationship status
- Your religion or beliefs
- Your race, skin colour or where you were born
- Being pregnant or having a child
In the UK, a law called the Equality Act protects you from discrimination.
The Equality Act says you have a disability if you have a physical or mental health problem that has a substantial, negative, and long-term effect on your day-to-day life.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
Confidentiality is about keeping your information private.
It means that when you talk to professionals they shouldn’t tell anyone else what you’ve said.
They will only share what you tell them in certain situations. For example, if you ask them to or if they’re worried that you or someone else could be in danger.
See our page on confidentiality for more information.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
This information was published in April 2022. We will revise it in 2025.
The quotes on this page are from young people we spoke to while making this information. They've given us their consent to use their quotes in our information. The words, experiences and opinions in the quotes are not related to the young people shown in any of the photographs we use.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.