Have you ever been really struggling, and needed someone to talk to? But were not sure if you should call a mental health crisis line or not?
Mental health helplines are not as scary as they sound.
(*Note that some of the helplines we reference below are for those living in the UK. If you are not in Britain, do try a Google search for a similar helpline in your country.)
12 Myths about calling a mental health crisis line
Read on to learn just why the next time you feel at a loss, you really should try a helpline.
1. I’m not suicidal, so I better not call.
There are mental health crisis lines that are set up just to deal with those with suicidal thoughts, this is true. And if you are not suicidal then that is the wrong place to call.
But feeling suicidal is not the only sort of mental health crisis, and there are many other hotlines that exist in the UK just for other forms of mental health challenges. These include:
2. I am just being a nuisance.
Nobody who works for a mental health hotline will see you as a nuisance. They will see you as someone they are happy to help.
3. Hotlines are for crazy people and I am not crazy.
Helplines are for people who are brave enough to reach out for support with mental and emotional issues. And that is not crazy. It is brave.
Calling anyone ‘crazy’ is also a way to stigmatise mental health issues. And that is what is truly ‘crazy’ because we all, at some point in our lives, have emotional and mental challenges that are beyond our control. Would you call someone ‘crazy’ for being physically ill or injured?
4. My issue is not really important.
If you are feeling lost, and unable to cope, it doesn’t matter what your issue is. It IS important. When you call a help line and talk to a trained listener, you might discover that what you think is your issue is actually only part of the story anyway.
5. My issue is too weird for anyone to understand.
When you call a mental health crisis line you will be talking to someone who is a trained listener with an understanding of human nature and struggle. They talk to all sorts of people with all sorts of issues and they are not there to judge.
6. Nobody can help me.
When we are depressed, anxious, or feeling suicidal, our thoughts can be very extreme. And it’s actually normal in such a state to feel that you are beyond help, or totally different than anyone in the entire world.
But having someone to talk to who fully listens to you and takes you seriously, and who does not judge you nor have any investment in your choices? It really can help. If you don’t believe it, why not call and see first?
7. I hate talking on phones so they can’t help.
Not so fast. There are several mental health helplines nowadays, particularly for young people, that also provide support via online chat or emails.
8. They won’t understand.
Calling a hotline is not like talking to a friend or family member who interrupts you or talks about themselves.
When you call a hotline, you are speaking with someone who is a trained listener. They know how to ask good questions and really hear what you say, so you can help them understand.
9. They will judge me.
People who work for mental crisis helplines do not judge. They just listen.
10. I can’t call, I’ll get caught by my family/partner.
Many mental health hotlines now have numbers that do not show up on any phone bill so that those who called are protected. If you are worried, look at their site, where it should say. You can also email most helplines first if you are too scared to call, and some also offer an online chat function.
11. They are being paid to talk to me and won’t really want to be talking to me.
Almost all people who work for mental health crisis lines do it for free. They are volunteers. So they really do want to help.
12. I’m too young to call a hotline/ I am too old to call a hotline.
If you are a kid, can call Childline (0800 1111), or go to the Childline website to have an online chat.
If you are an older adult, there is a dedicated hotline in the UK for older people feeling lonely and in need of a chat. You can call The Silver Line (0800 4 708090) 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Again, if you need to talk to someone in the UK, you can find out about the various helplines in our connected piece, “Calling a Mental Health Helpline in the UK“.
If you are worried you are in immediate danger of hurting yourself or someone else, do call emergency services.
Thinking you’d like someone to talk to long term? Why not try some counselling or psychotherapy? Our new platform puts you in touch with therapists right across the UK (or elsewhere via Skype), and includes lower cost counselling for those on a budget.
Still have a question about calling a mental health crisis line? Or want to share your experience of using a helpline with other readers? Post in the public comment box below.