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Whether you're experiencing a mental health crisis or you're worried about a loved one's mental health, free help is available to you. In England, there are 33 helplines that support with a range of mental health or behavioral health concerns.
It's common to feel some anxiety about contacting a helpline. Learn more about what helplines offer so you can decide if it's right for you.
Helplines offer immediate mental health support to the public for free. When you contact a helpline, you will receive confidential counseling support either over the phone, text message or online chat. In some countries, helplines are also known as hotlines or crisis lines.
Helpline responders will actively listen to you while also asking questions to help you process difficult emotions and situations. When you call a hotline, you can expect to be listened to without judgment. If you like, you can also talk through or receive guidance on what steps you can take next.
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 offer support for specific problems like suicide, depression, anxiety, domestic violence and sexual assault. Others help with certain demographics, such as veterans, youth or the LGBTQ+ community. Many helplines offer support for all kinds of mental and behavioral health problems – this means you can talk to them about anything that is on your mind.
Most countries have a suicide hotline or suicide prevention line (often called a lifeline or crisis line) available 24/7. These helplines provide compassionate support for people who might be having feelings of wanting to die or kill themselves. Commonly, suicide hotlines will also support anyone, regardless of what they are going through.
It can be worrying when a friend or family member is struggling with their mental health or experiencing a behavioral health crisis. Helplines will support you to better help your loved one, whether that is actions you could take to support them, or external support they might be able to access.
In England, there are 33 hotlines and helplines that support with a range of topics.
Today, there are over 2,000 helplines and hotlines across the world. While they may support different topics and populations, each and every one of them share the same goal: to help those experiencing emotional or mental distress to get through the current pain and find a meaningful path forward. When you feel alone, hopeless or stuck, having a conversation on a helpline can help you feel heard, supported and empowered.