The Samaritans: Talk to us
When you notice the signs that you’re developing a cold – tickly throat, sneezing – do you try to head it off by taking vitamin C, drinking plenty of water or having an early night? How about if you aggravate an old injury when you’re exercising, and spot the signs that you might have overdone it – do you take a couple of days off working out and carry on again when you’re ready?
The same principles can be very helpful for mental health difficulties, such as depression and anxiety. We don’t tend to wake up one morning to find ourselves suddenly experiencing an episode of clinical depression, for example – there are often early signs that we’re not feeling quite right. You might notice you feel especially tired, or that you’re suddenly snapping. Perhaps your heart is racing, or you start getting regular headaches.
What difference do you think it might make if you were to notice these warning signs and take steps to address how you’re feeling? One step could be to reach out to someone you trust and talk it through with them. A friend or family member would be great, but many people find it really helps to talk to someone they don’t know, anonymously – and this is where the Samaritans can come in.
Every July, the Samaritans runs an annual awareness campaign – Talk to Us #WeListen – with local branches holding events to remind us they’re there to listen to anyone who’s struggling to cope, 24/7. A volunteer will help you talk through what’s on your mind, and give you space to explore and understand how you’re feeling. They may ask questions, but they won’t tell you what to do or make any decisions for you.
Most people are aware of the Samaritans, and the work they do – but here are some facts about the service that you might not know.
They’re not only there for people who are feeling suicidal. While of course you can talk to them if you’re feeling this way, you can also contact them when you can’t stop worrying at 3am when everyone else is asleep, if you’re in therapy but can’t speak to your therapist in between appointments, or you’re at the end of your tether and just need to ‘get it all out’.
There are lots of different ways to access support. You can call them free on 116 123, chat with them online, (currently available only to some people) or email email@example.com and receive a reply within 24 hours. You can even write a handwritten letter to Freepost SAMARITANS LETTERS and they’ll send you a handwritten reply back.
The Samaritans also has a self-help app which you can use to track your mood, try techniques, create a ‘safety plan’ and keep a record of things you find helpful. The website has lots of useful information for people having a difficult time, with articles on topics including self-harm and managing your mental health during the pandemic.
If you recognise that you have a difficulty such as depression or anxiety, and would like to seek treatment, you can access CBT through Ieso in certain areas.