In my last post Mental health awareness month: Enough with the tough love! I said that I would share a silver lining that has really helped me to cope through this difficult period of poor mental health. And in light of yesterday’s terror attack in Manchester I felt that I ought to try get this post up as soon as I could because it might come in handy to anyone struggling to come to terms with what they witnessed.
I know in yesterday’s post that it perhaps seemed that reaching out for help can cause even more problems, but even though sometimes you will encounter people who lack compassion or empathy, I do not want to discourage anyone from seeking the help that they need. Because there are also empathetic people out there and people that will do everything that they can to help. You absolutely do deserve to be helped and to made to feel that your feelings are valid and you shouldn’t be made to feel otherwise.
Many people will hear the words Samaritans and think of a helpline for people who are suicidal and in desperate need of help and whilst that is the core of their work and a vital service there is also much more that they provide.
I heard about their email service a while ago but have never had cause to use it until the other night when I was in such a state and wondering what to do when I suddenly remembered about it and decided to look into it further.
Firstly, I want to say that this service is not recommended for those in immediate need of help, those who might be suicidal, a risk to themselves or others. If you feel you need instant help then it is recommended that you ring their helpline 116 123 if you are in the UK or the Republic of Ireland, which is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week. You can find more contact info here. This is because they cannot answer the many emails that they receive straight away but they will get back to you as soon as they can. So again do not use this service expecting instant help, please use their helpline or other helplines that are available, go to your doctor or to a&e if you are suicidal and at risk.
However, if you have concerns, worries or feel that you are not coping in any way but don’t need instant help, their email service might just be the solution for you. You don’t have to be suffering from depression or anxiety to use it either. They are there to listen to you and your concerns about a whole range of problems, from stress at work to a bereavement and many many things in between. We all have times that we feel life gets all too much and wonder how we can cope, our lives are so complex and many of us have a tendency to bottle up our emotions and let them build up. I know many also turn to their friends for advice and to blow off steam and that’s a great coping mechanism, however, if you feel you need extra support and to speak to an impartial professional then this service might be a great option for you. Sometimes all we need is someone to talk to and unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have friends or family that they can turn to.
So far my experience with them has been very positive. It is much like a counselling session only over email and with more time between responses. I find writing down my feelings and concerns also very therapeutic and helps me to process the jumble of emotions in my head, which was an added benefit of using this service. It’s also great for people like me that don’t particularly like using the phone or find it physically hard to do so and find it hard to find the words to say. Rather than the cold response, I had from trying to book an independent counselling session my first response from them was welcoming, saying that they were very glad that I had reached out to them to help me process my feelings and reassured me that anything I said in my emails was completely confidential. You can learn more about how The Samaritans help protect your identity here. They opened up a dialogue and asked me questions and ended their response once again encouraging me to keep talking to them for as long as I needed to.
They made me feel so at ease and that my feelings were valid, which is exactly what I needed. Especially after being so confronted the first time I tried to access help. I’m so glad that I reached out to them and that I knew the service existed in the first place.
I hope that this blog post makes other people aware of this service and that they know where they can turn should they need to. Please, never downplay your feelings or feel that they are not valid. We cannot be strong all the time, not even the toughest amongst us. And even if you feel that you have no one to turn to just know that there is, there are people out there just waiting to listen. People who will not think that your feelings are trivial or invalid. People who will respond with kindness and can help you to make sense of the chaos in your head. So please reach out if you need to. Don’t suffer in silence.
If you need urgent help please ring: 116 123 UK/ROI
To access the email support service email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more info on how to contact Samaritans and what is involved visit: http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/different-ways-you-can-get-touch/what-happens-when-i-email
For more information about Samaritans visit http://www.samaritans.org/