Getting support can come in a range of shapes and sizes.
It can vary depending on your age and where you live.
– If you’re in school, it might be that you go and speak to an adult you trust, whether that’s a teacher, parent or even your school chaplain (yes some schools do have them). Or it might be that you go and see your GP, either with or without a parent.
– If you’re at university, then you could reach out to your university’s counselling service, of nightline.
– If you don’t have access to either school or university resources, you will probably have to access support through your GP. They will be able to offer help and advice, as well as refer you on to appropriate support through your local social services or mental health service.
Remember that reaching out for support is not being weak. 1 in 4 people will experience a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. You are not alone.
If you talk to someone in school, or another trusted adult, they may have to share the information with someone else, especially if they believe that you are in danger, or someone else is in danger. This should be explained to you if/when you talk to someone. It’s usually called ‘Confidentiality’ and all schools will have a confidentiality policy. This is very important because it means that anything you tell someone should not end up being talked about by everyone else. The person you tell should always act in your best interests. However, if you disclose something to them, such as abuse, they might have to tell someone, in order to keep you safe. If you choose to talk to your GP, they also have a duty of confidentiality, and should not tell anyone else (not even your parents) what you tell them unless someone is at risk. There are limited times when someone should disclose something you tell them, and this could include if the police ask them to do so.
University or college support can be quite varied from one university to the next. If you decide to approach your university counselling service, you should expect to see the same person when you go and speak to them. Some university services will be very busy because university is a very stressful experience and a lot of people suffer with stress, anxiety or depression while there. University staff (lecturers and other staff) will also have a duty of confidentiality towards you, and again, this can only be broken if someone is at risk, or under a few other circumstances.
‘For me, the first step to getting support was when I went to my GP with my mum, and my GP diagnosed me with depression and anxiety.
I went to see my GP because I was having panic attacks at work. I was hardly sleeping and I felt awful. She prescribed me antidepressants, but when I lost my job because of the panic attacks, and wasn’t responding to the medication, she referred me on to the local Mental Health Team, who have continued to help me, on and off, for the last 2 years.
My GP continues to be incredibly supportive and I see her frequently.’