How to ask for help
Practical tips for adults struggling with their wellbeing.
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Written by Sonder Health
Updated over a week ago

As an adult, reaching out for help can be challenging for a number of reasons.

Perhaps you don't want to be a 'burden' on anyone or you don't think your emotions and experiences are 'bad enough' to seek help. It might even be that you don't notice yourself burning out because you're focused on supporting those around you before you support yourself.

But it's time to send these thoughts away and allow yourself to seek help when you know you need and want it.

Why is it hard for adults to seek help for themselves?

For some, admitting you need help can be the biggest hurdle.

“We don’t want to be ashamed of our situation, or come across as incompetent,” says M. Nora Bouchard, executive and leadership coach and the author of Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need. “So we work really hard to make sure people don’t see us this way.”

A fear of rejection and/judgement can also be a roadblock.

How can adults get better at asking for help?

Remember that barriers such as the above can be overcome. In fact, put yourself in a loved one's shoes. If they came to you and said they needed help, you'd jump at the chance to do so, right? Therefore if the situation were reversed, it's likely they'd have the same reaction to support you.

Even reframing the way you tell someone you need help can be beneficial.

Think about framing it like: ‘I’ve got a problem or challenge and I could really use your help. Let’s talk it through and see what we can come up with together," says M. Nora.

When will you know it's time to ask for help?

It's normal to feel down, sad, frustrated, anxious or stressed at times, but when these feelings or moods become more than a temporary thing is when you need to start looking outwardly for assistance.

It's recommended that you seek help if you're noticing one or more of these feelings, along with any changes to your usual behaviours - such as changes in motivation, lack of sleep, inability to find joy in things - and thoughts like, 'my problems are too hard to solve', 'life is too hard', 'I can't carry on'.

Also note if these thoughts are:

  • constant or noticeable most of the time

  • persisting for a period of about two weeks or more

  • affecting your daily life in a negative way

Remember, even if the above isn't your personal experience but you feel that you need extra support, any time is a good time to reach out for help.

Who can you go to for support?

Of course your loved ones are always there for emotional support, however, only a trained health professional can specifically diagnose a mental health condition or disorder, and also give personalised treatment plans.

If you're wondering where to start, a trusted GP is a good option.

Be as open as you can when discussing your feelings, behaviours and thoughts. This is a no judgement zone, and the more information you give, the better they can help you.

A good way to make sure you cover everything you want to discuss is to write down a list of points you want to raise in the appointment.

During an initial consultation, you can expect a general check-up as well as some more specific assessments.

This could involve questions about your work, life, current and past physical and mental health. This is a collaborative conversation and you're absolutely welcome to ask questions, too.

Your GP should then talk you through your support options. This could include referrals to mental health services or medication options. You can also talk to your health insurance provider as many include mental health cover within their policies.

Other 24/7 phone support services you can reach out to for help can be found here.

Sonder's team of caring professionals is available at all times of day or night - whenever you need help, we're here for you. You can start a confidential chat from the home screen of our app.

Information sourced from: Black Dog Institute, Sane Australia

Image credit: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash, Photo by Chase Chappell on Unsplash

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified professional.

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