There are various reasons why you might need to get something off your chest or feel a yearning to be connected to somebody – from loneliness to struggling with a mental health condition, to coping with grief and loss.
This need can also deepen during the autumn and winter months when we’re spending more time at home, as feelings of isolation can grow.
If this sounds relatable, then it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in how you feel and you don’t have to struggle by yourself.
Many people worry about showing vulnerability due to fear of appearing weak – yet it’s anything but that. In fact, many would agree that talking about how you feel is one of the greatest forms of strength.
Sharing our thoughts and emotions with another person can help us relieve stress and tension; see a situation more clearly or from a new perspective; and sort through problems.
You may find it effective to speak to a trusted friend or family member if you have one. But, if you don’t, or you feel uncomfortable with the idea of speaking to someone close to you about how you feel, then there are plenty of other places you can turn to connect with others, and get help and support.
We’ve put together a few ideas below…
8 places to turn when you need someone to talk to
1. Contact Silverline or Samaritans – if you’d prefer to speak to someone via phone or email
Charities like the Samaritans or the Silver Line (which has been specifically designed to support older adults) are available to answer your calls 24/7, every day of the year if you find yourself needing somewhere to turn quickly. You can call Samaritans on 116 123 or Silver Line on 0800 470 80 90.
They won’t judge or tell you what to do – they’ll simply listen to you for as long as you need and offer you some kind words. If you feel uncomfortable speaking on the phone or you’re worried about being overheard, you can always send Samaritans an email instead (write to [email protected]) and they’ll respond to you within 24 hours. Or, you can try Shout…
2. Contact Shout – if you’d prefer to speak to someone via text
Shout is the UK’s first and only free, confidential, 24/7 text service for anyone who is struggling to cope.
After only launching in 2019, so far, Shout has had more than 1.5 million text conversations with people who are stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, depressed, or suicidal and need in-the-moment support.
You can text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258 day or night, and one of 2,100 trained and active Shout volunteers will get back to you.
3. Try talking therapy
Speaking to a trained professional like a counsellor or therapist can not only allow you to get things off your chest – but it can also help you explore and better understand your thoughts, feelings, and patterns of behaviours, and teach you different coping strategies that you can use throughout life.
Many people also like the idea of having regular talking sessions with someone impartial and non-judgemental, as it can make them feel more comfortable speaking freely.
One way to access talking therapies is to speak to your doctor, who can refer you to the relevant NHS service. Alternatively, you can make a self-referral through the NHS’ Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service (though this is not currently available in Wales).
We appreciate that NHS waiting times can be lengthy, especially at the moment. Therefore, another option is to look into free or discounted talking therapies run by community and charity organisations. These include Mental Health Matters (MHM), Anxiety UK, Cruse Bereavement Care, Rape Crisis centres, or your local Turning Point, Mind, and Rethink Mental Illness branches.
You might also want to consider going private – however, this option won’t be for everyone as it can be expensive. If you do go down this route, it’s important to look for a proper therapist who’s registered with a professional body. A couple of online search directories that you could use include the Counselling Directory and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
4. Join an online community
These days, online communities are thriving – and while they’re no replacement for a face-to-face chat or a conversation over the phone, they can be great places to meet like-minded people and let our inhibitions go, particularly for people who struggle with social anxiety.
Joining an online community can also give you the option to share details of your situation anonymously.
If you’re looking for somewhere to start, then the Rest Less community is a welcoming and supportive group of people who talk about everything from health and relationships to hobbies and travel.
You can find people to chat with over on Facebook, where we host the Rest Less Lifestyle group.
5. Join a support group
Support groups can be particularly effective at helping you work through difficult problems or emotions – because you can seek support and advice from other people in similar situations and share ideas.
For example, if you’re struggling with an alcohol problem or someone close to you is, then Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Al-Anon groups can offer support with recovery. Many groups are run in person in local churches or community centres, while some are held online. Or, if you’re in an abusive relationship, you can access peer support by contacting Women’s Aid.
There are also support groups available for things like bereavement, disability, eating disorders, OCD, and loneliness. To find a support group near you, you can use the Hub Of Hope’s search tool.
6. Speak to your employer
According to research, we spend an average of 90,000 hours at work over the course of our lifetimes. But if our mental health is suffering or we’re struggling with a problem, our performance can be affected – and showing up to work each day like normal may feel incredibly difficult.
While many people like to keep their home and work lives separate, if your mental health is impacting your work, it can be a good idea to speak to your employer about how you’re feeling.
If your boss knows what you’re going through, they’ll have a better chance at working with you to create an environment that will help you succeed – whether that’s agreeing that you take a break, add some flexibility to your work schedule, or have regular check-ins to discuss goals and priorities. In some cases, you may even be able to access a counselling service through your workplace.
For advice on when and how to talk to your employer about your mental health and what support may be available, have a read of the information on Mind’s website.
7. Consider visiting a place of worship
Places of worship like churches, mosques, and synagogues act as community hubs, providing activities for people of all ages, as well as comfort and refuge in times of crisis – so they may be a valuable resource if you need someone to talk to. They can also be peaceful places to sit and reflect, and meet new people.
8. Join a group
If you need somewhere to turn quickly or you need support with your mental health, then some of the suggestions above will hopefully be helpful. However, one way to improve your overall health and wellbeing, and increase your options for people to speak to in future is to consider making some new, meaningful connections.
There are multiple ways you can do this – such as joining a group that caters to your hobbies and interests, like an art club or a sports team. You could consider using services like Oddfellows and Meetup to find activities and events close to home, including things like afternoon tea, talks, and quizzes.
There are also plenty of apps that can help you get to know new people, such as Stitch, the world’s leading social app for over 50s, and Nextdoor, which can help you become more established in your local community.
At times, it may feel easier to bottle up difficult emotions and struggle through by ourselves – but you don’t have to suffer in silence. Whether you have friends and family to open up to or not, there are plenty of places you can turn to for support from talking therapies and helplines to online communities and places of worship.
You’re not alone and there are plenty of people out there who can listen and offer help. Reaching out can sometimes be daunting but it can give us an outlet, bring us closer to others, and help to resolve problems.