If you're looking for free and quick mental health support, helplines can be a great option. In Northern Ireland, free crisis counseling support is available from 11 hotlines and helplines.
It’s normal to feel nervous about making the call. Learn here about what to expect.
A helpline is a free, confidential counseling service available to anyone experiencing difficulties in their mental health, or worried about the mental health of someone they know. They are sometimes known as crisis lines or hotlines, and offer support over the phone, text message or chat. Some are available 24/7.
Helplines provide a judgment-free space for you to talk, unpack your burdens and receive support. Their support may take the form of active listening, help processing emotions, and working with you to determine meaningful next steps.
The people on the other end of a helpline or hotline are often counselors or volunteers who are trained in crisis counseling and active listening, and can offer you a safe space to talk freely about what's bothering you. Some helplines are staffed by peers who have some personal experience in the issue the helpline supports with.
Some helplines support with specific issues, such as suicide, depression, anxiety, and abuse. Others support with specific demographics, such as the LGBTQ+ community, veterans or young people. So if you're looking for tailored support, you might be able to find a hotline specific to your problem. There are also helplines that support with any problem that’s causing you distress – no matter how small or big it seems to you.
Suicide prevention hotlines or lifelines are available in many countries. They exist to provide compassionate support to people who are feeling hopeless or are thinking of ending their lives. Suicide hotlines commonly support with all topics, which means they can help with any kind of problem, even if it's not suicide related. They are usually reachable at all hours of the day and night.
Helplines aren't just for the times when you need support. They can also be helpful if you're worried about someone else. When you contact a helpline for advice about someone you care about, they will talk with you about how you might support the person. This might look like support resources that person is able to access, or behaviors or actions you can take to help their situation.
In Northern Ireland, there are 11 hotlines and helplines that support with a range of topics.
The first helpline was founded in 1953. Today, there are over 2,000 globally. While there is a wide variety in the types of topics or populations helplines support today, they are united by a common thread: to help those who are experiencing emotional distress or crisis to find a meaningful path ahead. Whether it's you who needs support, or whether you have questions about a loved one who is showing warning signs of distress, calling a helpline can help you get the support you need and deserve.