How to overcome obstacles when reaching out

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Are you struggling, but having trouble asking for help? These ideas can help you overcome some common obstacles to reaching out and get the support you need.

When you’re struggling with a problem (school, work, relationships, etc.), it’s important to get support. However, figuring out how to get the support you need is sometimes part of the challenge. Here are some common obstacles you may be facing when reaching out for help, and a few ideas on ways to overcome them:

  • You’re reaching out for the first time: it takes a lot of courage to tell someone what’s on your mind. If you’re reaching out for the first time, you may be a little anxious, nervous or afraid about asking for help. Try to stay calm, take a deep breath and remember that you can do this. Talking about a problem is often the first step to feeling better, so you’re doing the right thing by asking for help when you need it. There is no problem too big — or too small — to bring up.
  • You’re not sure where to start: you may not know what support services are out there, or even where to start. You can try asking a parent/caregiver, teacher, guidance counsellor or other safe adult for information about services in your community. Say, “I need information about/support with X. Do you know where I can go?” You can also explore your options online to find a service that works best for you. You can do a search by using Resources Around Me or calling a Kids Help Phone counsellor at 1-800-668-6868.
  • You’re not sure what to say: if you’re not sure how to start a conversation, remember there are many ways to approach it. You can begin by saying, “I have a question, and I’m wondering if I can talk to you about it?” or “I’m really struggling and I need someone to speak to. Would you be able to point me in the right direction?” Try to pick a good time for you and find a safe, private place to talk (e.g. a classroom or a quiet park). You can write down what you want to say if that makes things easier.
  • You’re reaching out again: sometimes, you may need to reach out for help more than once. That’s OK! It’s important to remember that the road to recovery isn’t linear — it may take a few tries to find the support that’s right for you. For example, you may need to search online for a new support service, ask your doctor about changing your medication/treatment, talk to your counsellor about trying a different therapy, etc.
  • You’re in crisis: if you’re crying a lot, self-injuring, having thoughts of suicide or feeling unsafe, reaching out for help may seem overwhelming. However, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone and help is always available. You deserve to — and can — find the best resources and coping strategies available to you, no matter what you’re going through. Try to slow down, ground yourself and think about your next step. Kids Help Phone’s counsellors can help and will listen without judgment 24/7 at 1-800-668-6868.

If something is stopping you from reaching out, try to remember that just talking about a problem is often the first step. (This can give you relief right away.) If you’re not sure where to start or what to say, remember that help is always available, no matter what you’re going through. You’re never alone.