Guest blog: The Forward Trust

What stops us from asking for help?

Written by Juliet Perschky, Reach Out Service Coordinator for The Forward Trust.

This blog discusses some of the most common barriers that can prevent us asking for help and just a few of the potential benefits in doing so.

Asking for help: how hard can it be?

We know how incredibly difficult it can be to ask for support when struggling with drugs, alcohol, or mental health, for a vast variety of reasons.

Here are some of the most common thoughts that can stop us from asking for help:

  1. Feeling that asking for help is a sign of weakness or moral failing, or that by asking for help you are inadequate in some way. We don’t want anyone to see that we are struggling and would prefer people to think that we are in control and can handle things ourselves.
  2. Thinking that you don’t want to burden other people around you. You might think: “(That person) has enough going on in their life” or “They won’t understand.” This can be very real and hold anyone back in seeking support from friends and family, alongside fears of judgement, stigma and shame.

Reaching out

If you are struggling, it’s important to recognise that you don’t need to do things on your own. Sometimes it’s about giving yourself permission to ask for help. In addiction, as with other mental health challenges, it is commonly recognised that will-power alone is often not enough. Addiction is a chronic, progressive, relapsing and potentially fatal disease that requires help and support. Help is out there and often this can include support from the people around us, or sometimes it can feel more comfortable seeking it elsewhere first.

Today there is an ever-increasing amount of information, self-help resources and organisations delivering support via live-chat services that are easily accessible online.

Reach out, provided by The Forward Trust, is a free online chat service that allows you to access support for yourself or loved ones quickly from your mobile, tablet or computer. Reach Out offers free, confidential support to anyone aged 16 or over who feels isolated or overwhelmed by struggles with addiction, mental health or other challenges, or who simply just needs a friendly ear.

At Reach Out we are often asked if we are a “bot” at the beginning of a chat. We’re not. Reach Out is run by real people who want to help and recognise the value of talking to enable us to not feel so alone with personal struggles. We frequently welcome return callers who might want to debrief or help prepare themselves for forthcoming challenges.

So how could an online chat service help me?

If you have ever thought about using an online chat service like Reach Out but are a little hesitant, here are some of the potential benefits:

Different perspectives: Sometimes it’s helpful to get an outsider’s perspective. You may feel close friends or family are biased, especially when you’re talking about something related to them. An impartial outside’s perspective can help explore the bigger picture. It can also help you to identify the potentially harmful or abusive behaviour of others around you.

Writing things down: Sometimes just the act of writing of things down can help you to begin processing and reflecting on your feelings. Therapists often encourage writing things down because it can be cathartic and helpful in combatting the sense of being overwhelmed. Many of our Reach Out service users have said this themselves.

Listening and empathy: An online chat can be as short or as long as you want. Some of our longer chats have lasted over a couple of hours. We are here to hear you! We are not here to judge you for your actions or coping mechanisms. We appreciate how difficult your struggles with addiction or mental health may be for you. We want to listen and give you time to express your feelings confidentially and anonymously.

Practical support: Getting support doesn’t just mean having someone listen to you. It also means exploring ways forward and getting access to information about other services, organisations of support and support groups. After listening to your concerns, our experienced team will signpost you to practical support and advice that is relevant to you.

Here is what some of our Reach Out Service Users had to say:

“I feel better just speaking to someone, and writing down my thoughts that have been going around my head for some time.”  – Reach Out Service User

“Thanks for your time, this is the first time I have used a service like this and knowing I can get things off my chest is a big help.” – Reach Out Service User

If you are looking for support, whether it’s for you or a loved one, why not reach out to us today. Our friendly team of volunteers are available for a live chat, weekdays between 9.00am – 3.00pm. Otherwise you can leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Follow the link to start chatting: Reach Out online chat – Forward Trust

The Forward Trust empowers people to break the cycles of addiction or crime to move forward with their lives. Since 1991, we have been working with people to build positive and productive futures. We believe that anyone is capable of lasting change, whatever their past. Our services have supported thousands of people to make changes to create better lives with jobs, family, friends and a sense of community.

For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.

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